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Smith Says Taxing Marijuana Could Offset Food Tax Repeal

Democrat Jamie Smith showed up to talk to voters at the Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary Club’s gubernatorial candidate forum yesterday; Republican Kristi Noem and Libertarian Tracey Quint did not.

The Rotary shares the full video here; the conversation with Smith starts at 25:45:

While Noem didn’t have time to attend and face the voters, her campaign did have time to dig quotes out of context for cheap attacks. She was quick to tweet that Smith “said today that he wants to find ‘more things to tax.’

This statement misrepresents Smith’s point. Around minute 32, Smith discusses the long-standing proposal to repeal the food tax that Kristi Noem resisted until she needed a “political stunt” to save her failing campaign. At 33:30, he addresses the question of replacing the revenue we would lose from repealing the food tax:

…I am concerned about, you know, revenue. And first of all I think marijuana’s going to pass this year, and I think we’re going to have a new thing to tax. A good friend of mine from the past said, “We don’t need to tax things more; we need more things to tax,” and I think we’re going to get one, and I think we’re going to end up there with an offset [Rep. Jamie Smith, Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary Club forum, video provided by DSFRC, 2022.10.17, timestamp 33:30].

Smith was not talking about going on a tax-increasing binge; he was citing an old truth about sales tax and economic development: if you expand your marketplace, making it possible for people to sell more goods and services, you’ll collect more tax revenue without raising tax rates. I don’t know who the old friend was he was quoting, but the words he stated could as easily come from the mouth of Mike Rounds, Bill Janklow, or George Mickelson as from Dick Kneip.

If Noem had shown up for the Rotary forum, she and Smith could have honestly discussed that point. Instead, she stays home in her pajamas and tweets from her couch.

And she still hasn’t called that Special Session or done anything else to make the promise of repealing the food tax a reality.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-10-18 07:02

    According to WalletHub, gambling has become a leading source of anguish and despair in my home state with few avenues for treatment. The state is tied for first in the number of casinos and machines and second in overall addiction to the poison. Deadwood’s Toby Keehn is a sleaze ball of biblical proportions but his family helped to bring the illness to the Gulch.

  2. jim 2022-10-18 08:10

    Excellent interview! Wow, did he do a good job. Everyone needs to see Smith’s Rotary appearance.

  3. P. Aitch 2022-10-18 08:53

    Who has ideas about new things to tax in SD; a state that refuses to pay its own way within the American journey?
    Here’s the lowest taxed thing in your state, which rates as #4 in “Worst Winters in America”. (ND is #1)
    THE WEALTHY, including the bag being stored in your trust funds.

  4. Donald Pay 2022-10-18 08:56

    I’m not a fan of Smith’s plan. It’s George Mickelson all over again.

    “Finding more things to tax” has been SD Republican policy for fifty years. Republicans will tax anything besides the income of the wealthy elite from whom they collect their campaign checks. No wonder SD Republicans want to dumb down history.

    Mickelson thought he could escape the necessity of an income tax by supporting video lottery and other forms of gambling. The original plan was to dedicate all that money to education, until people figured out that funding a wholesome activity with sin taxes might not be the best policy. Well, with video lottery they ended up having gambling dens on every other corner, destroying many neighborhoods and hooking many folks on an evil industry. The revenue they collected got dumped into the cesspool of the legislative process. I mean, they funded GOED, which is nothing but welfare for the rich., while they starved education.

    Over the years Democrats have proposed many things to make the tax system fair. Taxing fewer things by substituting revenue generated by an income tax makes sense. You can lift the tax on groceries and other staples and reduce property taxes on everyone with a tax on high incomes. Taxing pot is just another sin tax that shifts taxes even more onto lower income people. Who, after all, smokes pot? Mostly it’s high school and college students and young adults, most of whom are virtually penniless. You don’t see many millionaires imbibing.

    Decriminalize pot, tax it lightly, don’t tax necessities, tax the income of higher income individuals and corporations.

  5. Frank J Kloucek 2022-10-18 08:58

    Jamie Smith, Brian Bengs, Jeff Barth, and Tom Cool did an excellent job of explaining why we should vote for them at the Corn Palace in Mitchell last night. Smith brings people together for the good of our State and Nation. Bengs is a statesman and respected military Veteran. He is a very impressive individual with excellent credentials to be our US Senator. Barth believes in individual property rights and no eminent domain for private gain. He will work for everyday South Dakotans on the PUC. Cool will make sure our South Dakota elections are run fairly and properly as Secretary of StateState. Jamie Smith will be an excellent governor who will build bridges of cooperation with our citizens.

  6. larry kurtz 2022-10-18 09:10

    Yep. Despite lies from the South Dakota Republican Party video lootery, suicide, domestic violence and homelessness are inextricably linked putting children at risk to more catastrophic consequences far more often than has happened in states that have legalized or lessened penalties for casual use of cannabis.

  7. John 2022-10-18 09:31

    Certainly SD should tax recreational cannabis. The only issue the “reasonable” amount.
    Before South Dakota adds new taxes, it ought to thoroughly review present tax exemptions, in whole or in part, and no fee activities, imposing reasonable taxes and fees as appropriate.

  8. P. Aitch 2022-10-18 09:36

    South Dakota Liberals are as much a part of the Blue Wave as Cali or NY libs. Be Proud! (grudznichts is but a fool’s fool.)

    “But then things changed.” – Roger Moore filmmaker/liberal activist

    Biden started getting one thing after another passed. The price of gas came down. He pardoned thousands of marijuana users. He finally began forgiving student debt. Simultaneously, Republican candidates stopped pretending they weren’t white nationalists, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, and the Supreme Court stripped the rights away from the majority gender while expanding the power of the 2nd Amendment and telling the planet to go f**k itself.

    And then the American people, as they usually do, started telling anyone who would listen — including the pollsters — that they wanted Democrats running the country. This sent shock waves through the establishment.

    The country had collectively changed the channel and blew up the narrative.

  9. Nix 2022-10-18 10:29

    With all due respect Donald,
    Who smokes Pot?
    First, it’s Cannabis, not Pot.
    Second, if you think that only penniless
    High School and College students are the only people partaking in the medicine,
    You are out of touch.
    Our Governor said that she never met anyone that got smarter by smoking
    Cannabis…. I’m betting that she, and probably you, have never met Elon
    Pretty smart guy, wouldn’t you agree?
    Please stop making statements that are
    just not accurate.

  10. Donald Pay 2022-10-18 11:18

    Nix, I HATE Elon Musk. I think he’s pretty dumb, actually. He’s just another billionaire who should be taxed.

  11. Nix 2022-10-18 12:01

    That’s OK Donald.
    No worries here.
    I appreciate your comments.

  12. Janet Olson 2022-10-18 12:07

    Uh Donald Pay I’m a 67 year older user of cannabis to help offset the effects of Primary Progressive MS. So I and many others are the opposite of your description of “Mostly it’s high school and college students and young adults, most of whom are virtually penniless.” You sir, have no clue. Another 60+ year old friend with Parkinson’s benefits from medicinal TCH. His tremors and stability are vastly improved. Just another pot head with a BSN degree from SDSU.

  13. Donald Pay 2022-10-18 12:16

    Janet, I have no problem with people who imbibe in pot for whatever reason they do. It should be taxed like booze is taxed, I suppose, unless it is used as a medicine, in which case it shouldn’t be taxed at all. The pot smokers I used to know grew out of it, for the most part. I never had the urge.

  14. grudznick 2022-10-18 17:41

    Pot, the Demon Weed, made Mr. Musk dumb.

    Mr. Smith is math impaired.

  15. P. Aitch 2022-10-18 18:37

    Not only should medicinal cannabis not be taxed it should be covered by Medicare and available for $2.99 copay. And will be sooner than later. Doesn’t that get your goat, g-nichts? Heh heh, ho. YES it does.

  16. larry kurtz 2022-10-18 20:10

    It’s pretty darned clear that the Noem campaign’s march towards authoritarianism is only eclipsed by the panic welling inside it.

  17. grudznick 2022-10-18 22:00

    Mr. Kloucek rightly points out it is cool to vote Cool (c)grudznick 2022. And Mr. Barth breathes hard whist walking downhill but golly he is a silver tongued devil on his TeeVee commercials with fluid, not jerk and awkward, gestures.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-10-19 04:45

    I agree with Donald’s point that, overall, increasing South Dakota’s reliance on taxing sales, especially sales related to gambling and recreational drug use (tobacco, marijuana, alcohol…) is fiscally unhealthy. We tax tobacco and alcohol to deter use and pay for the social cost of those who persist in using; we should tax recreational marijuana for the same reason. As Donald say in response to Janet, we should not tax drugs used for medical purposes at all.

    But Donald is offering an honest critique of this element of Smith’s thinking on repealing the food tax without blowing a hole in the budget. Noem is not offering an honest critique; she’s taking a false swipe at the basic concept that has underlain Republican economic policy for decades: increase economic development to increase sales, tax more things, and boost the state budget without raising tax rates or implementing new taxes.

  19. M 2022-10-19 07:13

    I think soda, candy, and junk food should be taxed at a HUGE rate. They pose a health risk, raising the cost of health care etc. Healthy foods and necessities should not be taxed. Eating is as much of a choice as gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking cigs, vaping, or taking a couple hits of pot. Seems like no matter what the vice is, it’s highly taxed. There are negative consequences in everything we choose to do or whatever lifestyle we prefer, but why tax a behavioral choice of smoking Mary Jane that has medicinal properties and ignore the food addict who eats 20 twinkies a day and dies of a heart attack?

    I can guarantee that people will buy less expensive black-market pot or drive out of state for it rather than pay for an overtaxed product. People do that already for cigarettes and many other things around here.


  20. Mark Anderson 2022-10-19 13:30

    You can just let cannabis remain illegal, thus no taxes. The cost of keeping it illegal will cost more of course.

  21. All Mammal 2022-10-19 13:51

    I like the thought of taxing the living crap out of violent video games and why not impose heavy taxes on firearms that serve no practical use. Tax the living daylights out of out-of-state sex offenders. That ought to deter them all from moving here. Heck, tax in-state convicted sex offenders. Tax advertising. Tax consumerism. The more crap you want imported, the more power and electricity you burn up, the more electronics your home has hooked up, the more you use, the more you should pay in taxes to offset your wonton consumerism. The stuff we throw away could get taxed too. Put it this way, the size of your carbon footprint should reflect the amount you pay in taxes. If these were implemented, it would let food and healthcare and feminine products, and clothing, and such things every man, woman, child, and everyone in between, regardless of economic station, off the hook for universal necessities. We would have a more equal right to education and dignity, regardless of income. The added bonus would be less waste and better future for the ones yet to inherit the good earth.

  22. M 2022-10-19 17:31

    If marijuana becomes legal, law enforcement will save lots of money from not arresting and housing prisoners. They will save oodles and the taxes can remain low on the medicine I so badly need.

    Do they put an extra tax on prescription pain killers that cause addictions and deaths?

  23. John S 2022-10-30 14:37

    “Eating is as much of a choice as gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking cigs, vaping, or taking a couple hits of pot.” – Wrong: WHAT I eat is the choice made; eating is a necessity to living.
    As for what raises the cost of Healthcare? Healthcare – its providers, ‘big pharma’, and health-care insurance policies/providers – are what I believe keep Healthcare so costly. Ever notice how a Healthcare provider and your health-care insurance provider “negotiate” a lesser cost for MANY services provided? It’s all “give and take”….
    Tax Marijuana – its sale and the paraphernalia that it’s used with – IF ONLY for recreational use. Keep taxing alcohol and tobacco. Lower or repeal taxes on medicine, food, and transportation costs (fuel, especially) – people need to have favorable access to medications, they need to eat, and they need to be able to get to both in a manner that doesn’t ‘break the bank’ in the process (either by having these items delivered, or getting to the proper provider of said goods and services, and the transportation of the items themselves to those providers).
    It’s not so much about taxing more things, but rather taxing the right things.

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