Monday, January 30, 2023

SD Gov. Noem Says Cannabis Legalization Can Move Forward If Approved — Change Of Heart Or Election Posturing?

The governor now says the new recreational marijuana proposal has been written correctly. “If it passes, it’s going to be implemented. That’s just the facts.”

By Nina Zdinjak

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R), who has opposed adult-use marijuana legalization for a while, now says she’d allow the implementation of the law.

During a recent meeting with around 20 constituents in Rapid City, Noem explained why she challenged the 2020 ballot measure, which advocates criticized for overturning the will of the people as 54% of voters backed it. The governor talked about what would happen if she gets reelected and initiates Measure 27 if it is approved next week in the elections. The bill would legalize recreational marijuana for adults over 21.

Noem had initially insisted on the court challenge, saying the measure was unconstitutional, reported Rapid City Journal.

“I raised my right hand and said that I would uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. The basis of every decision comes from that,” Noem said.

Circuit Judge Christina Klinger confirmed Noem’s criticism, ruling the initiative violates the requirement that constitutional amendments can deal with just one subject.

“Amendment A is a revision as it has far-reaching effects on the basic nature of South Dakota’s governmental system,” Klinger, who was appointed by Noem in 2019, wrote in her ruling.

According to Noem, if she’d allowed for the marijuana amendment to become law, it would create a precedent for not allowing the challenge of other amendments that may also be unconstitutional.

South Dakota State Capitol Building
Photo by powerofforever/Getty Images

What About Initiated Measure 27? 

The governor now says the new recreational marijuana proposal has been written correctly.

“If it passes, it’s going to be implemented. That’s just the facts,” Noem said.

It’s hard to imagine an adult-use cannabis program established under Noem, considering how much she has pushed against it. In addition to vetoing the legalization measure, the governor vetoed a marijuana expungement bill in March calling it a “bad precedent” for criminal justice.

RELATED: South Dakota Officials Lash Out Against Legalizing Cannabis, Insisting It Does This

“This bill is also retroactive, which is a bad precedent for criminal justice issues where fairness is paramount,” Noem said at the time. “Further, even with the legalization of medical cannabis, there must remain consequences for using illegal drugs at a time when the use and possession of marijuana, even for alleged medical purposes, was illegal.”

RELATED: South Dakota Legalization Bill Still In Game Following ‘Smoke Out’ Vote On House Floor

Will she actually allow cannabis reform this time, or will she find another way to overrule the will of the people? It remains to be seen, but first, it is up to the voters to repeat their consensus from last year, and to reelect Noem, right?

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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