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The South Dakota Supreme weighs in on the Amendment A controversy

In 2020, South Dakota residents voted to approve the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use. If you have been following this issue, you know that Governor Kristi Noem fought to overturn this ruling by ratifying a lawsuit filed by two law enforcement personnel.

Gov. Noem chose to base the fight against legalization on the technical violation of the state’s constitution. To voters, this demonstrates a complete disregard of their wishes, causing her to lose points with many residents.

What violation led to overturning the 2020 vote?

The governor argued that Amendment A comprises more than one subject, violating the single-subject rule. She also argued that the measure would not amend the state constitution – it would revise it instead.

By her argument, revising the constitution requires voting and majority approval (a convention) by the members of each house in our state legislature. A circuit court judge sided with the governor and overturned the original vote of approval.

On the flip side, the state of South Dakota and other defendants argued that Amendment A comprises one topic only with provisions (hemp and medical cannabis) related to that single topic. The defendants also claim that the definitions for amendment and revision contained in the constitution are permissive rather than obligatory.

What does the Supreme Court say?

In late November of 2021, the Supreme Court upheld the circuit court’s decision to keep the recreational use of marijuana illegal in our state. However, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML) is still searching for a way to make cannabis legal and available to those wishing to partake.

At present, marijuana remains illegal for recreational users. For those facing drug crime charges involving cannabis, make sure you understand the state’s current cannabis laws and possible penalties upon a conviction.