Sides make their points on whether South Dakota’s marijuana amendment was valid

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The courtroom battle over South Dakota voters’ recent decision to legalize recreational marijuana through an amendment to the state constitution doesn’t have a date yet for lawyers to present their arguments to the circuit judge. But this week they did submit briefs laying out what they plan to say.

Law enforcement officers are trying to overturn the November 3 result because, from their viewpoint, Amendment A was a constitutional revision that should have gone through a second step of consideration at a statewide citizens convention, rather than an amendment that needed 33,921 valid signatures from South Dakota registered voters to make the ballot.

“By failing to follow the proper constitutional process, the proponents of Amendment A deprived South Dakota voters of the opportunity to have a substantial revision to the Constitution properly scrutinized and presented for ratification,” lawyer Lisa Prostrollo of Sioux Falls said at the start of their 45-page filing.

The initiator of the amendment says the two officers, state Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, are disappointed their side lost and want the judge to overturn the will of the voters.

“The Court should reject this undemocratic attempt to disenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans who voted in favor of Amendment A,” lawyer Brendan Johnson of Sioux Falls said at the start of his side’s 34-page counterpoint.

The state attorney general’s office must defend the amendment as well as the decision by South Dakota Secretary of State Steve Barnett to put it on the 2020 general-election ballot. Grant Flynn, an assistant attorney general, said all of it was legal.

“Secretary Barnett asserts that Amendment A is an amendment, not a revision as defined by Article XXIII, § 1 and embraces only one subject. For these reasons, Amendment A was ratified in accordance with the South Dakota Constitution. And it is a valid and effective constitutional amendment,” Flynn said.

Circuit Judge Christina Klinger of Pierre has set January 8 for the sides to file replies.

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