PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem’s decision to run paid messages promoting South Dakota’s work on medical marijuana drew criticism Monday from the director of an effort that helped pass Initiated Measure 26 last November.
The campaign director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, Matthew Schweich made his remarks in response to a KELOLAND News story about the $322,500 campaign.
South Dakota voters supported the measure 70-30%. Noem opposed both IM 26 and Constitutional Amendment A, which would legalize marijuana in general for people age 21 and older, and is fighting to have Amendment A declared invalid. The South Dakota Supreme Court is considering whether Amendment A can take effect. Voters approved it 54-46%.
“These TV and digital ads provided virtually no helpful information to the public,” Schweich said. “They were a PR campaign intended to rehabilitate Governor Noem’s image on the issue of cannabis after her attempts to repeal Amendment A and severely delay Measure 26 proved to be unpopular with voters.”
He continued, “She should use her campaign funds to refund the state government for every penny spent on this advertising campaign, which was a misuse of taxpayer money.”
That brought a response from Ian Fury, the governor’s communications director.
“Governor Noem’s PSA provided information on the rollout of the medical cannabis program, as well as the goals of that program. Notably, it introduced the website MedCannabis.SD.gov, where South Dakotans can go to get additional information on the rollout,” Fury said.
The South Dakota Department of Health must begin to issue medical-cannabis cards no later than November 18.