More than 225,000 South Dakotans voted to legalize marijuana in South Dakota this week.
Gov. Kristi Noem wasn't one of them.
The first-term governor from Castlewood told the Argus Leader in an email Thursday that she believes the voters' choice to legalize the possession, sale and transport of the cannabis plant in the state will hurt families and force the expansion of government.
“I was personally opposed to these measures and firmly believe they’re the wrong choice for South Dakota’s communities," said Noem, who appeared in campaign ads in opposition to legalizing pot ahead of the election. "We need to be finding ways to strengthen our families, and I think we’re taking a step backward in that effort."
The South Dakota Revenue Department Wednesday announced it was working with the Department of Health to craft a plan toward implementation of legalized marijuana, which doesn't take effect until July 1.
The revenue department has until April 2022 to create a licensing system for future commercial marijuana operations. The health department is charged with issuing medical marijuana cards to those who qualify.
Upon implementation, marijuana sales will be taxed at 15%. And according to language in the ballot measure for recreational pot, administrative costs incurred by the state will be covered with those revenues. What's left is to be split among education and the state's general fund.
Regardless of whether the costs are offset, that means state government will have to grow in order to accommodate legal marijuana in South Dakota, Noem said.
"I’m also very disappointed that we will be growing state government by millions of dollars in costs to public safety and to set up this new regulatory system.”
Noem didn't address questions about her ability to stand in the way of implementation or if she's reviewing her options.