FARGO — Maybe Kristi Noem was too busy traveling to New Hampshire, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, Texas, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania to raise money for her 2024 presidential run.

Maybe she was too busy making another Fox News appearance to boost her name recognition for a 2024 presidential run.

Maybe she was too busy selling tacky COVID T-shirts to help fund the presidential run.

We know she wasn't too busy fighting COVID. Citizens of her state are dying at a greater per capita rate than anywhere else in the world and Noem simply doesn't care.

Whatever the case, the South Dakota governor's sudden interest in voiding a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana — overwhelmingly passed Nov. 3 by the voters of her state — is amateurish at best, incompetent at worst.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

What is it with Republicans trying to overturn elections?

South Dakotans approved Amendment A by a 54%-46% margin. The main gist was the legalization of recreational marijuana, although the amendment also delved into the regulation, licensing and taxation of recreational weed, plus the regulation of medical marijuana and hemp.

Two law enforcement officers, including a county sheriff and the superintendent of South Dakota's highway patrol, have sued to overturn the amendment. They have Noem's support and will use taxpayer money to make their case.

Noem's legal arguments that Amendment A violates the South Dakota Constitution by addressing multiple topics and because it should be considered a revision, not an amendment, are better left to be dissected by lawyers. The case will likely end up before the state supreme court.

Here's the oddest part: Why didn't Noem and other anti-pot Republicans raise their constitutional concerns before the amendment ever got before the voters?

Why wait until after the election in which the amendment passed?

This wasn't a sneak attack. The amendment was filed in September 2019. Nearly 37,000 petition signatures were submitted in November 2019. The signatures were validated by the secretary of state's office in January 2020, when the amendment was certified to be on the November ballot.

Noem's opposition to anything cannabis was well-known, but she and her minions likely knew Amendment A was going to pass because polls showed strong support.

So why not try to keep the amendment off the ballot, as North Dakota Republicans did with with an initiated measure they didn't like? The NDGOP put the full force of their political machine behind killing Measure 3, which was eventually dispatched by the state supreme court two months before election day.

North Dakota Republicans took no chances. South Dakota Republicans apparently aren't that slick.

Noem and her Republican Party are trying to put the smoke back in the bong. And if they succeed there are going to be 225,260 angry South Dakotans. That's the remarkable number who voted for Amendment A.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why Noem is mad about the amendment. When she ran for governor in 2018, she only received 172,912 votes. More than 50,000 South Dakotans prefer cannabis over Kristi.

That just won't do for a wannabe president.

Readers can reach Forum News Service columnist Mike McFeely at mmcfeely@forumcomm.com or (701) 451-5655