SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Leaders of two law enforcement organizations in South Dakota have filed legal challenges over a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana that was approved earlier this month by the state's voters.
Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and Col. Rick Miller, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, are challenging the constitutionality of Amendment A in Hughes County Circuit Court, Thom's office announced Friday, Nov. 20.
South Dakota voters approved Amendment A in the recent election by eight percentage points, 54-46 percent, according to vote tallies by the South Dakota Secretary of State's Office. The amendment includes provisions to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana.
“Our constitutional amendment procedure is very straightforward,” Miller said in a news release. “In this case, the group bringing Amendment A unconstitutionally abused the initiative process. We’re confident that the courts will safeguard the South Dakota Constitution and the rule of law.”
The two law enforcement leaders' challenges claim the amendment's changes to the South Dakota Constitution are too broad, beyond the scope of what is allowed for a newly proposed amendment in the constitution. The leaders also claim that the amendment's attempt to insert an entirely new article into the constitution doesn't follow the revisions process set out in the constitution.
“I’ve dedicated my life to defending and upholding the rule of law,” Thom said in the release. “The South Dakota Constitution is the foundation for our government and any attempt to modify it should not be taken lightly. I respect the voice of the voters in South Dakota, however In this case I believe the process was flawed and done improperly, due to no fault of the voters.”
South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, the group that proposed Amendment A and got it on the 2020 ballot, posted a statement on its Facebook page saying it was ready to oppose the court challenges.
"We are prepared to defend Amendment A against this lawsuit. Our opponents should accept defeat instead of trying to overturn the will of the people," the group stated. "Amendment A was carefully drafted, fully vetted, and approved by a strong majority of South Dakota voters this year."