State Watch

Members of law enforcement sue to halt marijuana legalization in South Dakota

A South Dakota sheriff and a colonel in the state highway patrol on Friday filed a lawsuit challenging a voter referendum legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state.

In the lawsuit, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Col. Rick Miller claimed the constitutional amendment at issue violated rules against amending more than one subject at once, according to a report in Dakota News Now. They argued that the amendment, Amendment A, incorporates legalizing marijuana, regulating its recreational use, taxing it, ensuring access to medical marijuana and requiring that state lawmakers pass laws regulating hemp.

The lawsuit further claims that the initiative is a “revision” rather than an amendment, that is, a fundamental change to the state constitution that requires a three-quarters vote from both chambers of the legislature.

“Our constitutional amendment procedure is very straightforward,” Miller said in a statement. “In this case, the group bringing Amendment A unconstitutionally abused the initiative process. We’re confident that the courts will safeguard the South Dakota Constitution and the rule of law.”

Amendment A passed with 54 percent support in the Nov. 3 election while a separate question on legalizing medical marijuana received nearly 70 percent, according to the outlet. Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is among the high-profile opponents of the measures, calling them “the wrong choice” in a statement released two days after the election.

“We are prepared to defend Amendment A against this lawsuit. Our opponents should accept defeat instead of trying to overturn the will of the people,” South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the group that backed the amendment, said in a statement in response to the filing. “Amendment A was carefully drafted, fully vetted, and approved by a strong majority of South Dakota voters this year.”

Tags Kristi Noem marijuana legalization South Dakota

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