Looking ahead to the future of Amendment A in South Dakota

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Circuit Court Judge Christina Klinger has decided that Amendment A, which would legalize marijuana in South Dakota and was approved by South Dakota voters, is unconstitutional. Klinger writes that Amendment A is unconstitutional because it has “multiple subjects.” Additionally, Klinger concludes that it needed to go to voters via a constitutional convention process. University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law Dean Neil Fulton doesn’t hesitate when asked if the question of Amendment A is eventually going to the state Supreme Court.

“Absolutely, I mean, and we all knew that regardless of what Judge Klinger decided, this wasn’t going to be the final word,” Fulton said. “Had this gone the other way, I fully would have expected Colonel Miller and Sheriff Thom to appeal it.”

Col. Rick Miller, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and Sheriff Kevin Thom of Pennington County brought the case at the direction of Gov. Kristi Noem. Fulton says not to expect a resolution on the question of Amendment A immediately.

“I don’t think we’re talking about a decision by summertime from the Supreme Court or anything like that,” Fulton said.

You might wonder why the question of legalized marijuana got a vote and then this judge’s decision.

“This is a timely ruling,” Fulton said. “Courts don’t rule on things in the abstract, so this really couldn’t be taken up by the courts until it was enacted by the voters.”

Fulton points out that some people will want more, however this is resolved.

“This is a well-reasoned opinion by Judge Klinger. I certainly can envision well-reasoned arguments the other way,” Fulton said. “Any resolution is probably going to leave some voters unsatisfied who voted for or against it.”

The story of legal marijuana in South Dakota continues.

“Even if the Supreme Court affirms this ruling, I would fully expect that you’re going to see the majority of voters who supported Amendment A come back with either a new constitutional amendment or a new initiative,” Fulton said. “It does really appear there is political will behind this issue in South Dakota, so the ruling on Amendment A, regardless of what it is in the end from the Supreme Court, probably isn’t the last word on generally-legalized marijuana in South Dakota.”

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