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Spearfish attorney reacts to Amendment A ruling

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 6:19 PM CST
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SPEARFISH, S.D. (KOTA) - The future of recreational marijuana in South Dakota is in question after Monday’s ruling from a state judge that voter-approved Amendment A is unconstitutional.

Some may be wondering how a lone state judge can overturn something passed by voters in the state.

The lawsuit was filed a few weeks after 54% of South Dakota voters approved Amendment A, effectively legalizing recreational marijuana. Pennington County Sherriff Kevin Thom and Colonel Rick Miller of the South Dakota Highway Patrol argued that the amendment would violate a different state constitutional amendment, one that states new amendments can only be focused on one subject.

Matthew Kinney, a Criminal Defense attorney in Spearfish, said that the single-subject rule is mandated by the South Dakota Constitution, and that’s why Circuit Judge Christina Klinger came to her decision.

“Constitutional Amendment A has a variety of things, such as taxation, civil penalties, hemp, and marijuana, and she laid out reasons why she believes the singe-subject rule, which was implemented by a separate constitutional amendment, she believes this amendment violated that amendment,” Kinney said.

Kinney said that he’s doubtful any appeals will work before the South Dakota Supreme Court. He does say, however, that he’s confident the issue will come up again on the 2022 ballot.

“I suspect that there’s going to be another measure that’s probably going to be slicker and cleaner brought by petition within the next year or so,” Kinney said.

Kinney said that he believes such a measure in the future would pass even more overwhelmingly given the Circuit Court ruling.

Circuit Judge Christina Klinger, who issued down the ruling, was appointed by Governor Kristi Noem back in 2019.

Noem has been vocal in her opposition to legalized marijuana, tossing her support behind the lawsuit.

Brendan Johnson, who represented Amendment A in court, said that an appeal is being prepared.

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