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Breaking down legal battle over Amendment A

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 11:09 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA) - Recreational marijuana may have been approved by a majority of South Dakota voters earlier this month, but the path to legalized marijuana has some new roadblocks.

Neil Fulton is the dean of the USD Knudson School of Law. He took a closer look at the lawsuit Monday.

“One of the interesting questions here is a constitutional provision, like the plaintiffs are arguing, those are generally more broad, open-ended principles as opposed to nitty-gritty regulations,” Fulton said.

The plaintiffs argue the amendment violates the state’s “one subject” rule,” which means that Constitutional amendments can not cover more than one topic.

“There are processes for how we amend our constitution and how amendments are explained to make sure that process is fair and open, and I think really here the plaintiffs are saying this was too broad for people to have a good understanding of it and it didn’t follow our structure on the division of responsibility on how the constitution has got to be amended,” Fulton said.

In a statement, South Dakotans for better marijuana laws said: “We are prepared to defend amendment an against the lawsuit filed by Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and Superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol Colonel Rick Miller. Amendment a was carefully drafted-fully vetted-and approved by a strong majority of South Dakota voters this year.”

The group also argues the lawsuit was filed incorrectly as a “contest” to an election. However, Fulton says that may not be the case.

“What you’re really looking at is that’s the mechanism to bring it into court. The underlying real question is going to be for the judge and justices when this gets to the South Dakota Supreme Court. One way or another, what is the meaning of ‘single subject?’” Fulton said.

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