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US South Dakota Supreme Court weighs pot legalization battle

02:20  29 april  2021
02:20  29 april  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Last fall South Dakota became the first state to simultaneously approve legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. The success of the broader ballot initiative, which passed with support from 54 percent of voters, was especially surprising because the state is In her view, these provisions "are not reasonably germane to the legalization of marijuana." On the second point, Klinger noted that "the South Dakota Supreme Court has never directly ascertained the difference between an amendment and a revision." But based on decisions from other states, she concluded that the distinction depends

South Dakota voters in November passed a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana, but a state circuit judge in January struck that down as unconstitutional. Marijuana advocates have appealed to the Supreme Court in a case that will determine whether recreational pot becomes legal in the More: South Dakota Senate concedes medical marijuana delay in exchange for decriminalization. The attorneys, representing South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws and several other marijuana advocates, argued that their opponents should face a high burden to prove that the state's constitution

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday heard final arguments in a legal battle sparked by an attempt by Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration to strike down a voter-passed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2021, file photo, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla. The South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, heard final arguments in a legal battle sparked by an attempt by Gov. Noem's administration to strike down a voter-passed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana. The high court will decide whether recreational pot use, medical marijuana and hemp cultivation are enshrined in the state's constitution. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2021, file photo, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Fla. The South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, heard final arguments in a legal battle sparked by an attempt by Gov. Noem's administration to strike down a voter-passed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana. The high court will decide whether recreational pot use, medical marijuana and hemp cultivation are enshrined in the state's constitution. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

The high court will decide whether recreational pot use, medical marijuana and hemp cultivation are enshrined in the state's constitution.

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"I'm confident the South Dakota Supreme Court , if asked to weigh in as well, will come to the same conclusion. The decision comes as lawmakers at the Capitol consider several bills related to both Constitutional Amendment A as well as Initiated Measure 26, the ballot question that also passed Because the Supreme Court is expected to make the final ruling, the Hughes County decision shouldn't have much impact on legislative efforts, said Rep. Drew Dennert, R-Aberdeen. "I don't think the ruling changes anything regarding medical marijuana in South Dakota . That's still going to be law on July 1

"I’m confident that South Dakota Supreme Court , if asked to weigh in as well, will come to the same conclusion." The case has been appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court and the challenge is ongoing. As more and more states decrease their pot regulations, Democrats in Congress are trying to do the same, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. The SAFE Banking Act, which would allow cannabis businesses to access more banking services without legal risks to the financial institutions, is likely to pass the House and be considered in some manner by the Senate this Congress.

Voters passed the measure — known as Amendment A — in November, but Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller mounted a legal challenge to its constitutionality on Noem's behalf. Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom also sued to block legalization.

The issue of legalizing marijuana has created significant divisions among South Dakota Republicans. Some reason they have a duty to honor the will of the voters, but Noem insists legalizing marijuana is a “bad decision."

On Wednesday, lawyers arguing before five Supreme Court justices in Pierre had nothing to say about the benefits or ills of pot, instead focusing on the constitutionality of the amendment passed by 54% of voters. Those arguing against legalization said the new law would violate the state constitution by elevating the agency tasked with regulating recreational pot, the Department of Revenue, to a fourth branch of government, and that the ballot measure violated a rule that constitutional amendments must only address one subject.

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South Dakota Circuit Judge Christina Klinger ruled on Monday that the state’s constitutional amendment approved by voters in November to legalize adult-use cannabis actually violates a 2018 law that prohibits constitutional amendments from dealing with multiple issues, CBS News reports. Klinger wrote in her ruling that the amendment “is a revision as it has far-reaching effects on the basic nature of South Dakota ’s governmental system,” as it would affect business licensing, taxation, and agriculture with new hemp/cannabis industries. “ Legalization opponents cannot succeed in the court

South Dakota Constitutional Amendment A, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was a cannabis legalization initiative that appeared on the November 3, 2020 South Dakota general election ballot.

“Amendment A will have significant and lasting effects on our constitution if it’s allowed to stand,” said Lisa Postrollo, a lawyer representing Miller.

A state circuit judge and Noem appointee sided with those arguments and struck the constitutional measure down in February. Advocates for legalization appealed to the Supreme Court.

Brendan Johnson, an attorney representing advocates including South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws conceded that the constitutional amendment was lengthy but said that was no reason to throw it out. He argued that the court should be cautious about striking the ballot measure down because it would weigh on future efforts for citizens to change laws at the ballot box.

He warned justices of “the damage that could be done if, for the first time in our state’s history, we have a court that literally throws out 417,000 votes that were cast on a piece of legislation."

Johnson also argued that Miller and Thom don't have standing as law enforcement officers to challenge the constitutional amendment.

Before the law was overturned by the circuit court, it was set to go into effect July 1. The court could strike down the law entirely, dismiss Noem’s challenge, or strike specific sections that it finds in violation of the constitution while keeping other parts intact. It has not given a timeline for when it will make a ruling.

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