Judge Tosses Out South Dakota Ballot Initiative Legalizing Recreational Marijuana
A South Dakota judge has overruled the will of the voters on behalf of Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and has tossed out a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana use.
In November, South Dakota citizens took the unusual step of legalizing both recreational and medical use of marijuana in two initiatives on the same ballot. Constitutional Amendment A (which passed with 54 percent of the vote) allowed for recreational use and created a licensing system to establish, manage, and tax legal commerce.
Some law enforcement leaders and Noem opposed legalization, and rather than accepting the will of the voters, went to court to try to block it. Noem even paid the legal fees for the challenge from a highway patrol superintendent and a sheriff, meaning that taxpayers were paying to both defend (via the state’s attorney general’s office) and attack the constitutional amendment.
On Monday, South Dakota 6th Circuit Judge Christina Klinger ruled that Constitutional Amendment A did not follow the proper state processes for approval and is therefore void. (The Argus Leader has embedded the ruling here.)
There were two constitutional flaws, Klinger determined. First, by attempting to both legalize marijuana and establish licensing and regulatory processes, the ballot initiative violated rules that require an amendment focus only on a single subject. It may appear that regulating marijuana could be seen reasonably as part of that single subject, but Klinger ruled otherwise, concluding that the inclusion of hemp is not “germane” (
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