The South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against the state’s successful cannabis legalization voter initiative, the Associated Press reports.
Officially, the high court upheld a lower court’s February ruling that the initiative, which sought to legalize the plant through a constitutional amendment, violated a state requirement that constitutional amendments can only address a single topic. The initiative had been worded to legalize and regulate three new industries — adult-use cannabis, medical cannabis, and industrial hemp — which the courts interpreted as three separate issues.
“It is clear that Amendment A contains provisions embracing at least three separate subjects, each with distinct objects or purposes.” — Chief Justice Steven Jensen, in the majority opinion
The effort to overturn the initiative only came after 54% of voters cast their votes in favor of legalization and was spearheaded by Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who opposed the reforms.
Matthew Schweich, cannabis advocate and campaign director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, described the ruling in a statement as “a disrespectful assumption that South Dakota voters were intellectually incapable of understanding the initiative.”
“The court has rejected common sense and instead used a far-fetched legal theory to overturn a law passed by over 225,000 South Dakota voters based on no logical or evidentiary support,” he said.
During last year’s election, voters also overwhelmingly approved a separate initiative to establish a medical cannabis program — the implementation of which is already underway.
South Dakota activists, meanwhile, are already preparing a renewed legalization effort for next year’s ballot. Additionally, state lawmakers are likely to consider a cannabis legalization bill in the coming legislative session.