Skip to main content
Publish date:

South Dakota judge strikes down voter-approved marijuana legalization amendment

Voters approved the constitutional amendment in November, with recreational marijuana set to become legal in July. Legalization advocates plan to appeal.

A judge in South Dakota struck down a voter-approved Constitutional amendment that would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state. 

Hughes County Circuit Court Judge Christina Klinger ruled Monday that Constitutional Amendment A violates the state's single-subject requirement and said it would have "far-reaching effects on the basic nature" of the state's governmental system, according to the ruling posted online by the Argus Leader.

“The failure to submit Amendment A through the proper constitutional process, voids the amendment and it has no effect,” the judge wrote, arguing the amendment doesn't modify the constitution it adds a new section to it, so it needed to be submitted to voters via the constitutional convention process, which it wasn't. 

Amendment A, which legalizes all forms of marijuana and allows for the licensing, sale and cultivation of cannabis, was set to go into effect July 1. Voters approved it by 54% in November 2020.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, a group that pushed for the legalization of marijuana, wrote in a Facebook post, "We disagree with the ruling and we are preparing our appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, the South Dakota Attorney General's Office, which is tasked with defending voter-approved ballot measures, told KELO it wouldn't be commenting because its general policy is not to comment on pending litigation.

The legal challenge to Amendment A came from South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, who filed a lawsuit against it, The Associated Press reports

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who appointed Judge Klinger in 2019, campaigned against Amendment A and spoke out against it even after voters approved it. She also ordered the state to pay for Miller's legal fees in his fight against Amendment A. 

She applauded the court's decision on Monday. 

"Today's decision protects and safeguards our constitution," she said in a statement sent to the Argus Leader. "I'm confident the South Dakota Supreme Court, if asked to weigh in as well, will come to the same conclusion."

Thom and Miller also cheered the judge's decision, with Thom saying it "solidifies the protections" outlined in a 2018 constitutional amendment that requires further amendments to stick to a single subject. 

South Dakota voters in November also approved Initiated Measure 26, which legalizes medical marijuana in the state come July 1. Monday's court ruling isn't expected to impact that. 

Fifteen states, including South Dakota, have legalized recreational marijuana, with other Midwestern states including Minnesota and Wisconsin considering it. 

Democrats in Minnesota have again proposed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana, but some Republicans are against it so it's unclear if it will get done this year as the GOP controls the Senate. 

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers proposed legalizing recreational weed and medical cannabis in his budget proposal, with medical marijuana more likely to get approval from the Republican-controlled Legislature. 

Next Up

flickr - gov tim walz - mn senate dfl

After 'extraordinary' revenue growth, MN projects $7.7B surplus

But finance officials note there is still "significant risk" due to economic uncertainty.

amelia huffman

Deputy Chief Amelia Huffman named interim chief of the Minneapolis PD

She lives in Uptown and has been with the MPD for 27 years.

Pixabay - hospital emergency room sign

Deputy injured when fleeing suspect crashes into his vehicle

The 34-year-old deputy was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

Vineeta Sawkar

Vineeta Sawkar named as WCCO Radio’s new morning host

She succeeds the legendary Dave Lee, who retired earlier this year.

coronavirus, COVID-19 test

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, December 7

The latest from the state health department.

no dancing

Footloose! Duluth scraps Prohibition-era ban on unlicensed dancing

Establishments had to have a license to allow the public to dance.

ted mann concert hall - university of minnesota

2 armed suspects rob victim at U of M concert hall

The two suspects pointed guns at the victim.

West St Paul, Minnesota - June 2019

Nine police agencies called in for crowd control after 2 shot in West St. Paul

Police say a large group "attempted to take control" of part of the crime scene.

Brooklyn Center police, Daunte Wright

Brooklyn Center approves $1.3M public safety budget, including policing reforms

The city will use some money from the police department for the new programs.

snow, slush

Snow impacting morning commute across southern Minnesota

A quick inch could make a bit of a mess on the roads.

Related

Marijuana, cannabis

Wisconsin governor proposes legalizing marijuana in his budget proposal

If it passes, two of Minnesota's neighbors will have legalized recreational marijuana.

marijuana

Recreational marijuana bill passes its first MN House committee

The bill would allow people 21 and older to use marijuana legally, with restrictions.

Marijuana legalization bill fails in Senate committee

Today's vote is a blow to Minnesota's "legalize recreational pot" movement.

marijuana

Minnesota medical marijuana users will soon be allowed to smoke it

The Minnesota Legislature approved the change to the state's program, and Gov. Tim Walz has signed it into law.

Marijuana, cannabis

MN lawmakers to introduce bill to legalize marijuana

Democrats plan to introduce the bill on Monday, while it's expected to be opposed by many Republicans.

Marijuana, cannabis

Minnesota legal marijuana bill headed for House vote for first time ever

The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday.