Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle Endorses the 2020 South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Campaign

Oct 13, 2020

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Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle Endorses the 2020 South Dakota Marijuana Legalization Campaign

Last week, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle announced the he, along with Rapid City resident and former Reagan Administration Senior Official Chuck Parkinson, is endorsing Amendment A and Measure 26, the marijuana reform ballot initiatives that South Dakota voters will consider this November.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle represented South Dakota in Congress from 1979 to 2005 and is one of the longest-serving Senate Democratic leaders in history. He is a native of Aberdeen, South Dakota, and a graduate of South Dakota State University.

Statement from former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle:

“I have long believed that the best way for our state and country to progress is by crossing party lines and working together, and so I’m delighted that Chuck Parkinson, a lifelong Republican, is joining me in endorsing marijuana law reform in South Dakota.

“I did not advocate for legal marijuana while I served in the Senate but, like many other Americans, my viewpoint has vastly evolved in recent years, and my passion for improving how our society delivers health care, as well as pioneering social and political change, has never been stronger.

“I also believe that legalizing marijuana for adults would substantially drive economic growth in South Dakota, creating new businesses and new jobs, as well as generating tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Nationally, that’s already a proven fact—11 states have successfully legalized and regulated marijuana while generating $5.8 billion in new tax revenue. And, in fact, the South Dakota Legislative Research Council estimates that Amendment A will generate a total of $60 million in tax revenue by 2024, with higher growth to follow. Half of that revenue will be dedicated to strengthening South Dakota public schools, and the other half will go directly into the State’s General Fund, which will support other important public services for South Dakotans.

“Chuck and I urge the voters in South Dakota to consider the benefits of these two ballot initiatives and see them for what they are—laws that respect personal freedom and allow South Dakotans with serious conditions to safely and legally access medical marijuana.”

This public endorsement followed the Argus Leader’s release of polling data that showed 70% support for Initiated Measure 26, to establish a medical cannabis program, and 60% support for Constitutional Amendment A, to legalize an adult-use cannabis market.

Daschle’s support for legal marijuana in his home state was also covered by ESPN, with radio sportscaster and Sioux Falls native Jeff Thurn noting, “My guess is both [initiatives] will see heavy support, and it very well may happen that both measures pass in November as sentiment over the last few years has seen a favoring of these measures locally and nationally.”

MPP staff are playing an important role in this exciting campaign, which will be historic. Until now, no state has approved medical marijuana and legalization for adults on the same ballot.

Voters in Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey will also decide on adult-use legalization ballot initiatives on Election Day, while voters in Mississippi will choose between two competing measures related to regulating medical cannabis use.