This week South Dakota’s Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling that nullified a voter-passed amendment to the state constitution that would have legalized recreational marijuana use.

The decision comes after Governor Kristi Noem instigated the legal fight to strike down the amendment passed by voters in November.

Noem’s administration’s arguments in court centered on technical violations to the state constitution.

In a 4-1 decision, the highest court went with her arguments, ruling that measure Amendment A would have violated the state’s requirement that constitutional amendments deal with just one subject.

“It is clear that Amendment A contains provisions embracing at least three separate subjects, each with distinct objects or purposes,” Chief Justice Steven Jensen wrote in the majority opinion.

About 54% of voters had approved the constitutional amendment in 2020 but Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller sued on Noem’s behalf and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom also joined the lawsuit.

According to the high court’s ruling, law enforcement officers did not have standing to sue, but because Noem authorized Miller’s suit, they treated it as if Noem brought the lawsuit herself.

Noem praised the decision. “South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision is about,” she said in a statement. “We do things right — and how we do things — matters just as much as what we are doing.”

Matthew Schweich, the campaign director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, called the ruling “extremely flawed.” He stated, “The court has rejected common sense and instead used a far-fetched legal theory to overturn a law passed by over 225,000 South Dakota voters based on no logical or evidentiary support.”

 


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