During the 2020 election cycle, South Dakota voters had the ability to vote on South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A, legalizing recreational marijuana. Voters passed the amendment with 54.18% of the vote, or 225,260 yes votes to 190,477 no votes.
Recently, a South Dakota circuit judge ruled the amendment was unconstitutional, stating in the decision, “Amendment A is a revision as it has far-reaching effects on the basic nature of South Dakota’s governmental system.”
Stating that a voter passed amendment is unconstitutional is going against the voice of the people. South Dakota voters passed this amendment and were well aware of the grounds of the amendment.
Marijuana laws have been a hot-button issue nationally for years. Colorado and Washington being two of the first states to legalize marijuana sparked debate on how it would affect surrounding states, and the debate has only grown from there.
Amendment A and Initiated Measure 26 both pertained to marijuana laws in South Dakota. Initiated Measure 26 pertained to legalizing medical cannabis in South Dakota. South Dakota was looking to be the first U.S. state to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana on the same ballot.
Almost 70% of the vote favored Initiated Measure 26 compared to the 54% for Amendment A, but a majority is a majority. The group South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, who placed the amendment on the ballot, is preparing to appeal the unconstitutional ruling to the state Supreme Court, according to the Argus Leader.
The Attorney General’s Office is constitutionally responsible to defend any voter-passed measures in courts. The office said in the Argus Leader that it was still reviewing the case. This case is an important one for South Dakotans.
South Dakota’s state legislature has struggled with passing what could be considered more-progressive laws, such as laws protecting LGBTQ+ individuals, and now there are battles on marijuana laws.
At what point do South Dakota voters say enough is enough? The representatives and courts are fighting against voter approved ballot measures. Making Amendment A measure unconstitutional can lead to many other constitutional questions.
South Dakotans should be watching this decision closely as it affects their individual freedoms with marijuana. This ruling could also bring up questions from voters on what their purpose in voting for these measures are if the state is just going to overturn them. There are multiple reasons to follow this decision closely, whether one supports Amendment A or not.
Now we all have to wait and see what the state Supreme Court says, but this decision is something all South Dakotans should be watching with a close eye.