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South Dakota Gov. Noem Says She’ll Implement New Weed Law If Passed By Voters

South Dakota Governor. Kristi Noem says she won’t stand in the way the second time around. 

Next week, the state’s voters will vote on Initiated measure 27, which would legalize marijuana possession for those aged 21 or older. 

Republican Noem who is seeking reelection this year remains hostile to legalization. At a Rapid City town hall, Noem said that she would support the will of the voters if Measure 27 is passed.

“If it passes, it’s going to be implemented. That’s just the facts,” Noem told voters, as quoted by the Rapid City Journal.

South Dakota’s voters approved a 2020 amendment to legalize recreational cannabis. It was approved by 54 percent. Noem led a legal battle that eventually saw the amendment rescinded by the South Dakota Supreme Court. 

Noem said that her actions were justified at the last week’s campaign stop, arguing that the law was against the state constitution. 

“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, according to the Rapid City Journal.

Although advocates believed that Measure 27 would be as popular as the 2020 amendment’s showing, polling shows that Measure 27 is far from certain.

According to a Mason-Dixon poll, 54% South Dakota voters voted against legalization in August. 44% backed it.

The South Dakota State University released a poll earlier in the month that found 47% opposed legalizing marijuana. Another 45% of respondents supported the idea, while another eight percent are uncertain. Emerson College’s poll last week showed that 50% of respondents intend to vote against Measure 27, compared to 40% who plan to do so. 

Jamie Smith, a Democrat who frequently criticizes Noem for his overturning of the 2020 amendment, is Noem’s challenger. Emerson College’s poll indicated that Noem had a significant lead over Smith ahead of Election Day. 

The South Dakota Supreme Court ruled last November that the 2020 proposal, Amendment A, violated the constitution’s single subject requirement. (The Amendment sought to legalize medical and recreational marijuana along with hemp.

“This constitutional directive could not be expressed more clearly—each subject must be voted on separately—and simply severing certain provisions may or may not reflect the actual will of the voters,” said Chief Justice Steven Jensen in the majority opinion. “Therefore, we cannot accept Proponents’ suggestion that excising the medical marijuana and hemp provisions from Amendment A in favor of retaining the provisions regulating and legalizing recreational marijuana is an appropriate remedy. Amendment A is void in its entirety.”

Noem was thrilled with the decision.

“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision is about,” she said at the time. “We do things right—and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. The rule of law still applies to us. This decision does not affect my Administration’s implementation of the medical cannabis program voters approved in 2020. That program was launched earlier this month, and the first cards have already gone out to eligible South Dakotans.”