The decide in South Dakota removes the state’s marijuana legalization vote


PIERRE, SD – A judge in South Dakota on Monday rejected a voter-approved constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana after the government of Governor Kristi Noem challenged it.

Judge Christina Klinger ruled that the measure approved by voters in November violated the state’s demand that constitutional amendments affect only one issue and would have resulted in sweeping changes to the state government.

“Amendment A is a revision because it has far-reaching implications for the fundamental nature of South Dakota’s system of government,” she wrote in her ruling.

Brendan Johnson, who supported the change and represented a pro-marijuana group in court, said she was preparing an appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Two police officers, Col. Rick Miller, superintendent of Highway Patrol, and Kevin Thom, Pennington County Sheriff, sued legalization by questioning its constitutionality. Miller effectively acted on behalf of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who had opposed efforts to legalize the pot.

Klinger was appointed Circuit Court Judge by Noem in 2019.

“Today’s decision safeguards and safeguards our constitution,” Noem said in a statement. “I am confident that if the South Dakota Supreme Court is also asked to deliberate, it will come to the same conclusion.”

Thom also praised the ruling, saying it “cemented the protection” of a 2018 constitutional amendment that required further amendments to keep to an issue.

In her decision, Klinger said legalizing marijuana would have touched corporate licensing, taxation and hemp cultivation. The change would have given the state’s Treasury Department the power to administer recreational marijuana, but Klinger decided that it exceeded the authority of the government’s executive and legislative branches.

Lawyers defending legalization had filed the lawsuit to dismiss the results of a fair election. Around 54 percent of voters approved marijuana in November.

Possession of small amounts of marijuana would have become legal on July 1st, but that will only happen if a higher court overturns the verdict.

Marijuana has gained wide acceptance in the United States. A Gallup poll in November found that 68% of Americans were in favor of legalization. South Dakota was among the four states that approved recreational marijuana that month, along with New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have done so.

Supporters have argued that legalization creates jobs and raises tax money for governments that desperately need it. Opponents have argued that marijuana leads to the use of harder drugs and can also lead to more driving disorders and other crimes.

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Beth Edmonds