South Dakota Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Litigation Challenging State’s Voter-Approved Marijuana Legalization Initiative


Justices on the South Dakota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a legal challenge to the state’s voter-initiated marijuana legalization measure: Constitutional Amendment A. Fifty-four percent of voters decided in favor of the ballot measure on Election Day 2020.

Nonetheless, litigation filed on behalf of Republican Gov. Kristi Noem shortly following the election has sought to nullify the vote. In February, Judge Christina Klinger of the state’s Sixth Judicial Circuit Court ruled in favor of the litigation — opining that the measure violates state requirements that ballot measures not encompass more than one topic. The judge also ruled that the measure revises rather than amends the state’s Constitution, and therefore should not be permitted to move forward. Proponents of Amendment A, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, have appealed the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court.

Commenting on the litigation, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Legalization opponents cannot succeed in the court of public opinion or at the ballot box. Thus, they are now seeking to overturn election results after the fact. Whether or not one supports marijuana legalization, Americans should be outraged at these overtly undemocratic tactics.”

Legalization proponents also backed another successful ballot initiative in November, Measure 26, legalizing medical marijuana access to qualified South Dakota patients. The results of that vote have not been legally challenged and the court’s ruling does not impact that law’s implementation. 

Gov. Noem publicly opposed both Amendment A as well as Measure 26.


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