Apparently, in America state governors can overturn the will of their voters, if they don’t like what they vote for. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see in South Sudan or Myanmar, the kind of political fuckery that’s commonplace in third- and second-world countries — but this time it’s happening in South Dakota.
The State governor, a staunchly anti-pot, Trump-ally, by the name of Kristi Noem is pulling what might be called a “blatant subversion of democracy” — or "constitutional treason," if you will. All because she really doesn’t like pot.
See, in November, 54% of Noem’s voters (the very people who put her in office) cast their ballots in favor of legalizing cannabis — which, normally in America, means that the matter is settled. The People had spoken. And they had spoken in favor of passing “Amendment A” which would license and regulate dispensaries throughout the state; which would allow all South Dakotans to carry up to an ounce; charge a state tax of 15%; and require their legislatures to pass hemp-related regulations by 2022.
But Noem, unhappy with that outcome, conspired with local judge Christina Klinger to overturn the voter approved constitutional amendment entirely, on a technicality. According to Judge Klinger, the amendment dealt with more than one issue (i.e. legalization, regulation, tax and hemp) and was therefore a “revision” rather than an “amendment.”
"Amendment A is unconstitutional as it includes multiple subjects in violation of [the South Dakota constitution] and it is therefore void and has no effect," Klinger wrote in the ruling. "Furthermore, Amendment A is a revision as it has far-reaching effects on the basic nature of South Dakota's governmental system."
You smell that? That’s the smell of authoritarianism. That’s the smell of the government’s dirty middle finger waving in your face, South Dakota.
Which, isn’t really anything new to these people. According to research, in 2018 one out every ten arrests in that state was for cannabis offenses. And of those, 95% were for simple possession. Weed is still largely treated like a dangerous narcotic in the Mount Rushmore State, instead of a medicinal flower. They’re still fighting a drug war that costs their taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year to support and which has cost thousands of non-violent offenders their futures. Cannabis users are used to being stepped on by The State, here.
Which Governor Noem intends to continue. She knows better than her voters, after all — fuck their will. Never mind the fact they put her into office in the first place. Never mind the foundation of American Democracy. South Dakota wasn’t ready for marijuana, so she and her legal lackey drummed up some half-assed cockamamie technical issue, upon which they could subvert the will of The People and throw the whole amendment out.
Now, we at Rooster would never encourage aggression, mean-spiritedness, mutiny or violence of any kind. But, when the government takes away your voice and your legal weed in the same fell swoop… well, that seems like just-cause to sharpen your pitch forks, light your torches and take to the streets. That, in our humble opinion, is reason to revolt against your elected officials.
Anyway, we hope it doesn’t come too that. This issue is now likely to go to the South Dakota Supreme Court, who will hopefully see the dictatorial nature of this slap in the face of The People and overturn Noem and Klinger’s power trip — stopping them from stomping the will of their voters.
However, the SD Supreme Court has two justices that Noem herself appointed. So don’t put away the pitch forks and torches just yet, South Dakota — because at a certain point, this isn’t about cannabis anymore — at a certain point, this becomes an issue of voter oppression and democratic treason.