SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Supreme Court issued a ruling Wednesday morning, declaring there will be no recreational marijuana in South Dakota. The court ruled that “Amendment A, as submitted to the voters in the November 2020 general election, violated the single subject requirement in the South Dakota Constitution.”
South Dakota voters approved it 54-46% during the 2020 election. The five justices listened to sides argue whether the November 3 election result on Amendment A should count during oral arguments on April 28.
Reaction to the ruling has rolled in from across the state following the ruling. Governor Kristi Noem tweeted her praise of the decision shortly after it was announced, declaring it a constitutional victory.
Noem followed up her Tweet, explaining that the court’s decision will not affect the implementation of medical marijuana by the state.
One of Amendment A’s prime sponsors, former U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, tweeted a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“Today I share the frustration of hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans who had their votes thrown out,” Johnson said in a tweet. “This will, however, only strengthen our resolve to return power to the people of South Dakota. Under God The People Rule.”
Ned Horsted, the Executive Director Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota, said “it’s important to keep in mind that today’s ruling on Amendment A was about the form of the ballot initiative, not about the substance.”
“The court’s ruling doesn’t change the fact that South Dakota voters spoke clearly when they approved legalization of adult-use marijuana in November of 2021 by a margin of 54% to 46%,” Horsted said in an email to KELOLAND News. “This ruling creates an opportunity for the legislature to do the will of the voters and enact legislation to legalize marijuana for adult use.”
He cited the legislature’s Marijuana Interim Study Committee voting in favor to approve legislation to permit and tax marijuana use by adults. He said when lawmakers meet in January they have a chance to set the this right.
“The fact remains that the will of the people in South Dakota has been overturned on a technicality. Now it is critical that action be taken to implement the will of South Dakota voters for a safe, well-regulated, taxed, adult use marijuana program,” Horsted said.
Response also came from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, where Sheriff Kevin Thom announced that he is pleased by the decision of the South Dakota Supreme Court on the legal challenge to Amendment A.
The chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party also issued a statement on the Amendment A ruling.
“We are disappointed by the outcome of the South Dakota Supreme Court’s ruling on Amendment A,” Randy Seiler, a longtime lawyer, said in a news release. “South Dakotans made their choice clear when they voted for Amendment A, and we look forward to working on additional avenues to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana and uphold the will of the people.”
State Representative Steven Haugaard, who’s challenging Noem for the Republican nomination for governor, issued a statement too.
The Legislature is keenly aware of the public’s concern that the people’s voice must be heard and respected. As a result, the Legislature has already been working on bills and recommendations for the upcoming session to work through the issues surrounding marijuana. It will be a subject of special interest during the session.Rep. Steven Haugaard
An official response was also issued on behalf of Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon.
“I’m proud the Department of Health is delivering a safe and responsible medical cannabis program, as approved by the voters in IM-26,” said Malsam-Rysdon in a release. “Amendment A does not impact or affect the program, which is on schedule and meeting all statutory timelines approved by the voters.”
The Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations said tribal medical marijuana programs will not be impacted.
South Dakota state Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-Florence) also weighed in on the matter via Tweet, saying that the onus to pass recreational marijuana now lays with the legislature.
Supporters of recreational marijuana are now circulating a new petition to put the issue back on the ballot in 2022 if all other legislative options fail to come to fruition.
This story will be updated with more responses to the historic ruling.