SIOUX FALLS, SD – 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.
The court sided with these arguments, ruling that the measure would have violated the state’s requirement that constitutional amendments deal with only one subject and would have resulted in sweeping changes in the government of the State.
About 54% of voters approved the amendment – known as Amendment A – to legalize recreational use of pot for adults, medical marijuana and growing hemp. But Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller sued on Noem’s behalf. Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom also joined the trial.
The state Supreme Court’s ruling upheld a circuit court judge’s ruling in February. Supporters of pot legalization had appealed, arguing that the Supreme Court should dismiss the legal challenge because it would subvert the will of voters and hamper their future ability to pass laws through the ballot box.
Marijuana has become widely accepted in the United States, with a Gallup poll in November showing that 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.
A separate law passed by voters that legalizes medical marijuana is expected to come into effect in South Dakota on July 1.