The South Dakota marijuana legalization ballot is fast approaching, and advocates have expressed concerns about the state governor frustrating the citizen-led effort. These concerns stem from the governor’s opposition to the 2020 marijuana legalization campaign, which resulted in a legal dispute. The 2020 citizen-led initiative was successful but later overturned by the court on unconstitutional grounds. Gov. Kristi Noem opposed the 2020 marijuana legalization initiative and initiated the legal inquiry that overturned the ballot result. The South Dakota Supreme Court found the proposition unconstitutional, making it impossible to enact.
Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed a 2019 bill that proposed industrial hemp policies in the state. The proposed legislation sought to legally allow residents to grow, manufacture, and process hemp and hemp products for industrial purposes. In a message to the House of Representatives, the governor mentioned that the bill could create problems for law enforcement officers and also called the bill premature.
In March, the governor vetoed a bill that could expunge marijuana-related convictions from an offender’s background check. In defense, the governor mentioned in an official statement that the veto decision would ensure that offenders face the consequences of using illicit drugs.
The advocacy group, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML), has moved on from the defeat of the 2020 legalization reform and created a new campaign, Measure 27, which will appear on the ballot in November. The new initiative is an improvement from the 2020 proposition and will not address taxation on marijuana products to avoid legal challenges. If victorious on the November ballot, the state will legalize recreational marijuana for individuals that are 21 or older.
In light of the recent legalization efforts for recreational marijuana, advocates expected the governor to oppose the initiative. However, the governor commented on the issue and gave assurance that she does not have plans to challenge it. She also referred to the campaign as more constitutional, unlike the 2020 initiative that she challenged.
Nevertheless, some advocates believe that the governor’s support is not genuine. They wonder if the governor’s motive for supporting the legalization initiative is to boost her reelection campaign. The South Dakota gubernatorial election will also take place in November. Opposition candidate, Jamie Smith, has criticized Kristi Noem for overturning the cannabis votes that occurred in 2020.
The legalization of adult-use marijuana remains a debated topic for South Dakota residents. It is possible for the stance of the gubernatorial candidates on the legalization of recreational marijuana to influence the decision of voters in the coming election. Some advocates believe that the South Dakota governor is taking a different approach to the citizen-led initiative for popularity, even though she has vetoed progressive marijuana bills in the past.