Monday, February 8, 2021
State judge declares South Dakota ballot iniative legalizing marijuana invalid for covering "multiple subjects"
This AP article, headlined "South Dakota judge strikes down voter-approved measure legalizing marijuana," reports on a notable state ruling from the Mount Rushmore State. Here are the basics:
A South Dakota judge on Monday struck down a voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized recreational marijuana. Circuit Judge Christina Klinger ruled the measure approved by voters in November violated the state’s requirement that constitutional amendments deal with just one subject.
Lawyers on both sides have said they expect the issue to be appealed to the state’s Supreme Court.
Two law enforcement officers, Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, sued to block legalization by challenging its constitutionality. Miller was effectively acting on behalf of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who had opposed the effort to legalize pot.
Lawyers for the law enforcement officers argued that the ballot initiative violated a rule that constitutional amendments must only address one subject. They also said that by giving the Department of Revenue the power to tax and regulate marijuana, it improperly elevated the department to a fourth branch of state government.
Lawyers defending legalization dismissed those arguments and said the lawsuit was an effort to overturn the results of a fair election. About 54 percent of voters approved recreational marijuana. Possessing small amounts of marijuana would have become legal on July 1, but that will not happen unless a higher court overturns the ruling.
The full ruling is available at ths link.