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Meade Co. voters reject increase in medical marijuana licenses

Bear Butte State Park in Meade County
SD Department of Tourism
Bear Butte State Park in Meade County

Meade County voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to increase the number of medical cannabis licenses.

Voters rejected the proposal 719 in favor to 1426 against.

The proposal would have allowed for a dozen medical cannabis licenses in the county. Three each for cultivation, testing, manufacturing and dispensary operations.

The county currently allows one medical dispensary license, while municipalities can set their own license ordinances.

Meade County is large and mostly rural, except along the I-90 corridor.

In 2020, voters in Meade County overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to allow for medical marijuana.

Rod Bradley is a vice-chair of the county commission.

“They’re saying we don’t need 12 licenses spread throughout the county. It just kind of goes back to its available but we just don’t need it everywhere,” Bradley says.

The vote comes on the heels of a new poll that shows majority support against a recreational marijuana ballot question.

The poll, conducted by South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy, shows support for recreational marijuana sits at about 44 percent.

Liz Tiger, West River Director of Operations with New Approach South Dakota that advocates for cannabis reform said the group did not back the ballot question.

She said the Meade County vote reflects a push for a cautious approach to cannabis legalization.

“I don’t think that it actually indicates a change in support for either medical or recreational in Meade County. I think that it does indicate a want for some guardrails surrounding these new laws," Tiger said . "I think Meade County is in a unique position because of the rally and the large events that they hold.”

Across the state, there are a total of about 2,500 medical cannabis patients.

Meade County Election officials will canvass the results later this week.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.