The trip to Yankton for the 2014 South Dakota Democratic Party State Convention to take photos for Northern Plains News was a personal opportunity to learn directly from the delegates, legislators and candidates while lobbying them about what this blogger still believes is the future of the party.
It was gratifying to be received as a credible voice at an event were everybody knew a blogger living in Santa Fe who cared enough about his home state to drive a couple thousand miles and shoot a few pictures. Jeff Barth and the Minnehaha County people took a straggler into their ranks and pressed the caucus on strict adherence to the rules with vigorous confidence.
There were some disappointments like no representation from Lawrence County and a watered-down therapeutic cannabis plank, for instance; but, the experience of knowing these people are dedicated Democrats who are sick and tired of being bullied by the state's dominant party while tirelessly fighting for a land they love was worth every driven mile.
2016's platform was better.
in Support of Marijuana LegalizationBut, the 2018 convention platform and resolutions don't even mention cannabis embracing Roundup-ready hemp instead!
Whereas: South Dakota law prohibits the possession and usage of marijuana, and
Whereas: The existing South Dakota marijuana laws violate the commitment to meeting every individual's basic human rights to promote respect for diverse lifestyles and viewpoints and to live in a community without fear of discrimination, and
Whereas: The medical benefits of marijuana would help countless South Dakotans who suffer from Glaucoma, Parkinson’s Disease, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, various psycho-physiological disorders, and many other conditions, and
Whereas: The existing marijuana laws inhibit economic growth and opportunity, and now therefore be it
Resolved: That the South Dakota Democratic Party supports regulation and taxation of marijuana in a manner similar to that of alcohol, and be it
Further Resolved: That the South Dakota Democratic Party urges state and federal governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all medical marijuana patients, and be it
Further Resolved: That the South Dakota Democratic Party supports the legalization of industrial hemp which can be grown and used to produce renewable food, oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, paper, and fuel in support of a sustainable full-employment society. [SDDP]
Democrats lost in South Dakota because the party abandoned legal cannabis as a campaign strategy and nominated an anti-reproductive rights candidate for governor failing to attract American Indian and younger voters.
The only reason Billie Sutton got any SDGOP crossover votes whatsoever is because Kristi Noem is hated by almost half her caucus. Vote margins in the other statewide races proved that. Stephanie Sandlin or Bernie Hunhoff would have done at least as well. After bombarding the Facebook pages of every single South Dakota media outlet that has one, blocking over 1000 bots and helping to draw out some 91,000 new Democratic voters in my home state I have unfollowed all media outlets in South Dakota on FB and Twitter.
Democrats in blue states already understand the added value of talking legal cannabis during their campaigns and some red state Democrats get it, too; but during the 2018 election cycle the US House candidate believed the state party is just too fragile for cannabis rights.
Yes, North Dakota just defeated a flawed and poorly-written constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis for all adults. Black market cannabis not tested or subject to regulation makes America and South Dakota less safe. Legalizing and regulating a product that so many people enjoy is reasonable public policy aligned with life safety concerns.
No South Dakota Democrat will get a dime from me until the county chairs are filled and unless Democrats weave cannabis into their platform at their state convention and arch-conservatives run for offices outside the Greedy Old Party it's curtains for SDDP in 2020, too.
The South Dakota Democratic Party should advocate for paying the tribes and settling the Black Hills Claim, dissolving the Black Hills National Forest, moving management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.
Rewild it and rename it Okawita Paha National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana along the Missouri River to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Canadian River through Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.
Hey, South Dakota Democrats: run on passing a corporate income tax, reducing the number of SD counties to 25, turning Dakota State or Northern State University into community colleges, ending video lootery and adopting my cannabis template.