South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Fights Voters and Lawmakers Who Want To End the War on Weed

After getting a ballot initiative voided, she says she’ll also resist legislators attempting to legalize marijuana.


After turning to the courts to stop voters from legalizing recreational marijuana in South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem says she'll also veto attempts by lawmakers to give voters what they've demanded.

Noem said on Thursday at a news conference that she would "not be inclined" to sign a bill legalizing marijuana if sent to her desk by state legislators. Her declaration comes just days after a judge, as part of a legal challenge Noem supported and helped fund, ruled that a ballot initiative approved by 54 percent of voters was unconstitutional and subsequently voided it.

So, to be clear, Noem will listen to neither the lawmakers of South Dakota, who have the responsibility and authority to craft the law, nor the actual citizens of South Dakota, who voted in favor of legalization. According to the Associated Press, she's even trying to force delays in the implementation of a medical marijuana program, which was approved in a separate November vote and has not been struck down. Medical marijuana is supposed to launch in July, but she's trying to get lawmakers to delay it until next year.

What petty, undemocratic, uncharitable behavior from a woman who wants to call herself a supporter of liberty. In interviews with Fox News about her resistance to adopting harsh mandates in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, she seemed willing to acknowledge that there should be limits to her authority:

What is the precedent that that is setting up into the future? And I was well aware of that throughout this last year while I was making decisions, that I knew what my authority was, and I didn't want to step over it, and I trusted my people. And overwhelmingly, they appreciated that. They appreciated the ability to get through this in a way that works for them, their businesses, and our state that really was an example to the nation.

And what sort of example is she setting to the people in her state when she uses every ounce of her authority to stop a ballot initiative that they supported?

What's remarkable about her stubbornness here is, the A.P. reports, that Republican lawmakers in the state are showing voters the respect that she, a fellow Republican, is not. They've been working on trying to hammer out regulations for marijuana legalization, not because they're big fans of the drug, but because the voters have made their wishes clear.

"I didn't vote for recreational marijuana, but my constituents did," state Rep. Greg Jamison (R–Sioux Falls) told the A.P. "Rarely do we get a chance to enact a law and not for sure know what our constituents think of that. Here we know."

He and other lawmakers may have to craft a law that gets enough votes (two-thirds in both the House and Senate) to overrule Noem's threatened veto.

Below, Reason's Nick Gillespie appeared on Kennedy earlier this week to critique Noem's opposition to liberty when it comes to marijuana: