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State Supreme Court Hears Legal Marijuana Case, Public Awaits Decision

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Joe Sneve / Argus Leader
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Lisa Prostrollo, a partner with Sioux Falls-based Redstone Law, makes arguments to the state Supreme Court.

State Supreme Court justices are considering the constitutionality of a voter-approved measure?to?legalize?recreational marijuana.? 

However, some say?the legal challenge is a way?to ban marijuana.? 

South Dakota voters passed Amendment A by 54 percent.? 

A few weeks after the 2020 election, Governor Kristi?Noem?and?two law enforcement leaders?challenged the?law on several constitutional grounds.??

David Owen was the president of No Way?On?Amendment A—a group opposed?to legal marijuana.??He?says?the legal challenge before the state Supreme Court is?not?about a benign constitutional question. 

“This isn’t purely a drive that?says?‘Oh my, I need to protect the constitution.’ Let’s not kid anybody. This is driven by people who?want (?)?South Dakota to ban recreational marijuana. They’re using this argument as a reason, which means we may open up a constitutional door that has consequences.”? 

However, the governor’s office says Amendment A was passed in an unconstitutional fashion.? 

Ian Fury is a spokesperson for Governor?Noem. He says?there?are?important precedent to establish on how to amend the constitution.?? 

?“There’s a correct way to change it and there’s an incorrect way to change it—as we’re seeing in this case. If the people pass an amendment that follows the correct process to change the constitution, then that will go into effect. But, that’s not what happened here,”?said Fury.? 

The state?Supreme?Court will consider whether Amendment A?considers?more than one subject—testing a new limitation?that?voters approved in 2018—as well as other constitutional questions.? 

The state?Supreme Court room was full?during oral arguments, which was streamed online.?The?Justices will consider the briefs and oral arguments. Once all five justices have weighed in on the?case,?they will issue an?opinion.? 

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.