Johnson says he’s prepared to appeal pot amendment without help from AG’s office

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Marijuana General

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — One of the lawyers representing interveners in a battle over legalizing marijuana for adult use in South Dakota said Friday they’ll continue taking the case to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Brendan Johnson made his comments on Twitter after learning that South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s office won’t continue to defend Constitutional Amendment A. Johnson, a former U.S. attorney for South Dakota, was the sponsor of the amendment voters approved November 3.

Ravnsborg’s chief of staff Tim Bormann issued this statement Friday evening:

“After a review of the matter the Attorney General decided that the Office of the Attorney General has fulfilled its obligation to defend Amendment A.  That conclusion includes the decision that all matters that may be raised on appeal are questions of law, and it appears that all arguments that could have (been) made in this matter have, in fact, been made.  Therefore it is the decision of the Attorney General that the Plaintiffs and Intervenors can proceed with an appeal of the declaratory judgment action without the involvement of the Attorney General’s Office.”

Circuit Judge Christina Klinger had ruled Monday that Amendment A violated the South Dakota Constitution’s single-subject requirement because it addressed a variety of topics regarding marijuana and hemp.

The judge also determined Amendment A was a constitutional revision, rather than an amendment, and should have been presented first to a constitutional convention.

“Grateful to the attorneys in the AG’s office who strongly argued that Amendment A was constitutional. Good people and good lawyers. We now move forward now without their assistance, but we will continue to amplify their arguments as well as our own in support of Amd A,” Johnson tweeted.

Initiated Measure 26 legalizing medical marijuana wasn’t affected by the judge’s decision. However, the Legislature’s Republican leaders and Republican Governor Kristi Noem announced Wednesday they plan to delay it from taking effect until 2022 because there are unresolved issues.

South Dakota Highway Patrol superintendent Rick Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom brought the Amendment A challenge on behalf of the governor. Noem had campaigned against both marijuana measures.

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