South Dakota cannabis reform activists successfully legalized the herb in their state only to hit a speed bump that has apparently turned into a dead-end. Constitutional Amendment A appeared on the general election ballot in South Dakota on November 3, 2020, and was approved with 54% of the vote. The initiative was set to legalize recreational weed in the state, but the South Dakota Supreme Court has decided that the initiative be overturned for violating South Dakota’s single-subject rule for constitutional amendments.
In a 4 to 1 vote, the justices have upheld the finding of a circuit court judge in February, deeming the measure too broad under the state’s electoral standards. This outcome resulted from a lawsuit filed by a couple of law enforcement officials, partially funded by tax funds supplied by the administration of Governor Kristi Noem.
Because Amendment A contained provisions that “embraced three separate and distinct subjects,” the reforms were ruled invalid.
Amendment A was advanced by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws (SDBML). They had appealed the initial circuit court ruling and bristle at the higher court’s recent decision upholding Amendment A’s rejection.
“We believe that this ruling from the South Dakota Supreme Court is extremely flawed,” complained Matthew Schweich, campaign director for SDBML. “The court has rejected common sense and instead used a far-fetched legal theory to overturn a law passed by over 225,000 South Dakota voters based on no logical or evidentiary support.”
Governor Noem chimed in with this tweet:
“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision on Amendment A is about. We do things right – and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. We are still governed by the rule of law.”
Cannabis activists may find Noem’s words somewhat ironic, considering the governor’s unbridled support of former President Trump and the seditious attempts of his followers to overthrow the election of President Biden on January 6, 2021.
About their rejection of the cannabis law reforms, the South Dakota Supreme Court judges said that the Amendment A violation is based upon the initiative containing “more than one subject, with different objects or purposes, that are not dependent upon or connected with each other,” rather than the reform legislation containing multiple provisions.
South Dakota reform activists remain undaunted and plan to rebound with a two-track approach at passing reforms in the coming year.
Vivian McPeak is a Seattle based social justice activist, media personality, and writer. Vivian is the president of Seattle Events, a Non-Profit Organization, producer of the Seattle HEMPFEST®, the world’s largest annual cannabis policy reform rally. The recipient of the High Times Magazine 2012 Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award and DOPE Magazine 2016 Emery Award for lifetime achievement, and in 2016 he was named one of the “50 Most Influential People” by Seattle Magazine. Vivian has appeared on numerous television and cable news networks, including FOX News, CNN, & NBC. McPeak is the host of Hempresent, a weekly radio podcast on Cannabis Radio with listeners on multiple continents.