South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem campaigned against Initiative Measure 26, the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana program that would be established for individuals with debilitating medical conditions. This past February, Noem further said she intended to delay the program’s implementation for a year.
In a stunning display of hypocrisy and gall, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem recently used taxpayer dollars to advertise that she is now “100 percent committed” to the voter-approved medical cannabis program. The advertisement was presented as a public service announcement and showed Noem unironically supporting the program.
“The medical cannabis program is on schedule… we’re working to implement a responsible program that follows the direction given by the voters,” said Noem in the taxpayer-funded ad. “I’ve heard from people who are hurting and are hopeful for relief. I can assure them that we are working hard to streamline the process to get medical cards out to people. And my team is 100 percent committed to starting this program as quickly and as responsibly as possible for South Dakota.”
Amendments to South Dakota’s Department of Health’s contract with Imagine Agency LLC provided $322,500 of funding for the ad. The agreement was amended twice, adding first $180,000 and then $142,500 to cover “medical cannabis,” with the $322,500 total coming out of the state’s general fund.
“Throughout the rules and the public input process, the departments of Education and Health have been careful in their approach,” Noem said in the advertisement. “I want South Dakota to have the best, the most patient-focused medical cannabis program in the country.”
Noem isn’t the only governor dragging her feet on voter-approved marijuana legislation. And, for South Dakota to finalize its program, the state’s Department of Health must announce rules necessary to implement the program and is required to issue cards no later than November 18.
Noem said she would support federal medical cannabis legalization after it receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration.