South Dakota Police Officers Challenge Constitutionality of Legalization Measure

Two police officers in South Dakota have filed a lawsuit claiming the state’s voter-approved cannabis legalization initiative violates the state constitution.

Full story after the jump.

Two South Dakota law enforcement officers have filed a lawsuit challenging the voter-approved cannabis legalization initiative claiming the amendment violates the state constitution because the question encompassed more than one subject, the Argus Leader reports. Voters approved the limitation to ballot questions in 2018.

The lawsuit, brought by Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller, also argues that because the measure adds a new section to the constitution, it should be considered a revision and, therefore, can only be added through a state convention, which has not been done since statehood, the report says.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who opposes legalization, said in a statement that she looks forward “to the court addressing the serious constitutional concerns” of the initiative. Noem approved funds for Miller’s legal fees last week, according to the Rapid City Journal. Thom’s fees are not being paid by the state.

In a statement, South Dakotan’s For Better Marijuana Laws – the group behind the measure – said they are “prepared to defend” the legal challenge, asserting that it was “carefully drafted, fully vetted, and approved by a strong majority of South Dakota voters this year.”

The measure was approved by 54 percent of voters earlier this month, including 59 percent of voters in Pennington County.

The advocates also contend that the lawsuit was “filed incorrectly under South Dakota law as a ‘contest’ to an election,” according to the Rapid City Journal report.

“However, the complaint has nothing to do with the manner in which the election was conducted and only relates to the text of Amendment A,” the group said.

This is the first voter-approved initiative in South Dakota to be challenged following the 2018 initiative question reforms.

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