SD Judge Strikes Down Voter-Approved Pot Legalization Amendment

       A South Dakota judge on Monday struck down a voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing recreational and medical marijuana.

Circuit Judge Christina Klinger ruled the measure violated a state requirement that constitutional amendments deal with just one subject.

      Judge Klinger, appointed to the bench in 2019 by Gov Kristi Noem, also ruled that it would have created broad changes to state government – saying its “far-reaching” effects on the South Dakota governmental system” make not an amendment but a revision to the state constitution, which requires a different process of approval.

     Former U-S Attorney Brendan Johnson, who sponsored the amendment and represented a pro-pot group in court, says supporters of the measure are preparing an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

     Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and SD Highway Patrol Supt Col Rick Miller brought the legal challenge, Miller acting on behalf of Gov Noem, who opposed the ballot initiative.

Noem issued a statement saying Klinger’s ruling “protects and safeguards the constitution” and that Noem is confident the Supreme Court will agree.

      Johnson and the other attorneys defending the amendment cast the lawsuit by Thom and Miller as an effort to overturn the results of a fair election.

About 54% of South Dakota voters approved the recreational and medical marijuana amendment last November. 

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