State Supreme Court Hears Legal Marijuana Case, Public Awaits Decision

Apr 28, 2021

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.