The South Dakota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments concerning Amendment A — recreational marijuana — on April 28 at 10 a.m. in the courtroom in the State Capitol in Pierre. Officially the case is “Sheriff Kevin Thom, et al v. Steve Barnett In the Matter of Election Contest as to Amendment A.”
According to the Unified Judicial System release, limited seating is available and on a first-come first-serve basis. Overflow seating in Room 414 of the State Capitol will have live-streaming. Masks are required in both the courtroom and Room 414.
The argument is also available for the public in audio and video formats through the UJS website at ujs.sd.gov or on keloland.com. The submissions by the court parties are viewable on the UJS website https://ujs.sd.gov/Supreme_Court/CurrentTerm.aspx.
In November of 2020, S.D. voters approved Amendment A, which permits recreational use of marijuana by people 21 years and older, and for possession up to one ounce. Three months later, and while the state legislature was working on implementation details for legalizing recreational marijuana, in February of 2021, Circuit Court Judge Christina Klinger said that the amendment was unconstitutional, thus void. This was in favor of law enforcement officers who filed a lawsuit for Gov. Kristi Noem challenging Amendment A.
Klinger said that the amendment broke the South Dakota Constitution’s single subject rule: “no proposed amendment may embrace more than one subject.” Klinger said the amendment has sections that are not “reasonably germane” to the amendment’s main subject of the legalization of marijuana. The amendment does address the growing and sale of hemp, which is not marijuana.
Klinger also said Amendment A was unconstitutional because it actually rewrites the state constitution, rather than amends it. Klinger said Amendment A contains “far-reaching changes to the nature of South Dakota’s governmental plan” that it is actually a revision, thus it must go through a constitutional convention rather than the general voting process.