South Dakota Supreme Court rules against legalizing marijuana – WCCO

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SIOUX FALLS, SD (AP) – The South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that overturned a voter-voted amendment to the state’s constitution that would have legalized recreational marijuana use.

Governor Kristi Noem has started the legal fight to overturn the amendment passed by voters in November. Although the Republican governor has opposed the legalization of marijuana as a social evil, his administration’s arguments in court have focused on technical violations of the state’s constitution.

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The High Court sided with those arguments in a 4-1 decision, ruling that the measure – Amendment A – would have violated the state’s requirement that constitutional amendments deal with only one subject.

“It is clear that Amendment A contains provisions encompassing at least three distinct subjects, each with distinct objects or purposes,” wrote Chief Justice Steven Jensen in the majority opinion, who held that marijuana at recreational, medical marijuana, and hemp were each separate issues.

About 54% of voters approved the constitutional amendment last year. But Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller sued on Noem’s behalf. Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom also joined the trial. The High Court ruled that law enforcement officers did not have standing to prosecute, but because Noem allowed Miller to be sued, they treated her as if Noem had sued herself.

Noem praised the decision and noted that it would not change the way she implements a separate law passed by voters that legalizes marijuana for medical purposes. This law has already entered into force.

“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution are important, and that is what today’s ruling is about,” she said in a statement. “We do things right – and the way we do things – matters just as much as what we do. “

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The state’s Supreme Court ruling upheld a circuit judge’s ruling in February. Supporters of legalizing the pot have appealed, arguing that the Supreme Court should dismiss the legal challenge because it overturned the will of voters and hampered their future ability to pass laws through the ballot box.

Matthew Schweich, campaign manager for the South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, called the decision “extremely flawed” and based on “a disrespectful assumption that South Dakota voters were intellectually incapable of understanding the initiative.”

“The court rejected common sense and instead used far-fetched legal theory to overturn a law passed by more than 225,000 South Dakota voters on the basis of no logical or convincing support,” he said in a statement.

Pot legalization is not going to go away in South Dakota. Marijuana advocates are trying to bring recreational marijuana back to voters next year through a voting measure that would ask the legislature to legalize it. Lawmakers are also considering legalizing pot for adults in the next legislative session.

Marijuana has become widely accepted in the United States, with a Gallup poll last year showing 68% of Americans were in favor of legalization. South Dakota was among four states this month to approve recreational marijuana, along with New Jersey, Arizona and Montana. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have done so.

(© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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