A section of South Dakota law enforcement officials on Friday moved to court to reverse the election day marijuana win over the state’s single issue rule.
Feature photo source: Unsplash
Two law enforcement officials, namely Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and state Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller are behind the whole operation.
The two filed a lawsuit to overturn the voter-approved marijuana legislation that passed during the November ballot by 53%.
“I’ve dedicated my life to defending and upholding the rule of law,” Thom said in a press release. “The South Dakota Constitution is the foundation for our government and any attempt to modify it should not be taken lightly. I respect the voice of the voters in South Dakota. However, in this case, I believe the process was flawed and done improperly, due to no fault of the voters.”
Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In South Dakota Goes Against the Single-Issue Rule in their Constitution
According to the two law enforcement officials, allowing the marijuana legislation to pass would go against their better judgement of upholding the rule of law.
In 2018, South Dakota set in place a constitutional amendment that states that “no proposed amendment may embrace more than one subject.”
Miller released a statement saying, “Our constitutional amendment procedure is very straightforward. 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.”
In this case, the police officials claim that the constitutional amendment contains at least five distinct subjects involving the legalization and regulation of various forms of cannabis.
The One-Subject Rule Explained
The police argued that the separate subjects needed to be proposed under different questions on the ballot as opposed to being packaged into a single amendment.
“A major purpose of the one-subject rule is to avoid requiring voters to accept part of a proposed amendment that they opposed in order to obtain a change in the Constitution that they support,” the complaint says, “resulting in votes that do not accurately reflect the electorate’s approval of the proposed amendment.”
Medical Marijuana Legalization Removed From Nebraska’s Ballot Over Similar Legislative Challenge
This is not the first time the single-subject rule has created a challenge to the marijuana community. Marijuana enthusiasts in Nebraska were in the same predicament two months ago.
Unfortunately, Nebraska’s medical marijuana legalization initiative was removed from the November ballot over a similar technicality.
If the deciding court’s judgement on Nebraska’s case is anything to go by, things aren’t looking up for South Dakotans.
“If voters are to intelligently adopt a state policy with regard to medicinal cannabis use, they must first be allowed to decide that issue alone, unencumbered by other subjects,” the court said in its opinion.
Is It Really Just a Technicality?
While some believe that the two cops are blowing the technicality out of proportion, Nebraska lost its freedom to vote for medical marijuana over the same challenge.
“Our opponents are cowards,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
“They use insider political tactics because they cannot win this debate. Medical marijuana will be legal in Nebraska one day. We lost this battle, but we will undoubtedly win the war.”
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s Involvement in the Legislation
It is believed that the two police officials have the full backing of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
She is allegedly using State’s funds to challenge the voter-approved marijuana legislation.
Noem is a vocal opponent to marijuana legalization in the state. Just last year, Governor Noem vetoed the state Legislature’s attempt to legalize industrial hemp.
She told the Journal that she looks “forward to the court addressing the serious constitutional concerns laid out in this lawsuit.”
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws Release Statement
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws is the group which helped draft and promote Amendment A and Measure 26 ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.
The group spoke up and revealed that they were “prepared to defend Amendment A” against the officers’ suit.
“Our opponents should accept defeat instead of trying to overturn the will of the people,” the group wrote. “Amendment A was carefully drafted, fully vetted, and approved by a strong majority of South Dakota voters this year.”
South Dakota Passes Recreational and Medical Marijuana
South Dakota became the first state in the U.S. to simultaneously legalize adult-use and medical marijuana on Election Day.
Recreational marijuana passed with 53% of the vote and medical marijuana with 69%.
The way forward for the marijuana industry in the state now lies squarely on the courts.