South Dakota AG wants to save state’s newly-passed recreational cannabis measure

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

South Dakota’s Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg has requested that a judge dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter-approved recreational cannabis measure, which is set to legalize the distribution, possession, consumption and transport of cannabis and any related paraphernalia by people aged 21 and above.

It was during the recently held election in November that voters passed both a medical and adult-use cannabis measure. Although the AG wants a judge to scrap South Dakota’s cannabis legalization lawsuit, it has received strong support from anti-cannabis Governor Kristi Noem.

Filed by two state law enforcement officers Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller the lawsuit questioned the adult-use amendment’s constitutionality.

Lawsuit says South Dakota’s adult-use cannabis measure required a state convention

Just under three weeks after voters approved South Dakota’s cannabis legalization measure, a couple of law enforcement officers filed a lawsuit to overturn the law. Thorn and Miller argued that Constitutional Amendment A – the adult-use ballot measure is a revised version of the state constitution. Because of this, they contested,  a state convention would have been necessary to initially place the measure on the ballot. 

Furthermore, officer Thorn published a press release alleging that South Dakota’s adult-use cannabis measure violated the state constitution since it addressed more than one subject.  According to details of the release, attorneys maintain a strong argument that the cannabis legalization amendment dealt with five different issues; including developing regulations for plant taxation, hemp and medical cannabis, as well as policies surrounding recreational sales and consumption.

South Dakota went down in history this year for simultaneous cannabis measure approvals

By July 1, 2021, medical and recreational cannabis in South Dakota will be officially legalized; following a successful ballot initiative passing this past November. Before the election, South Dakota was the only U.S. state that forbade the consumption of controlled substances. 

No other U.S. state has ever simultaneously passed a medical and recreational cannabis legalization measure. The recreational measure Amendment A passed with 54 percent of the vote, while the medical cannabis measure Measure 26 was approved with 70 percent of votes.

Since the two police officers first fought against South Dakota’s adult-use cannabis measure, a judge has been asked by the state attorney general’s office to dismiss the case with prejudice. Now, all parties must submit case-related briefs and motions by January 8, 2021. Two different pro-cannabis groups have been granted an opportunity to negotiate the case outcome in their favor.