Issue: Voters’ wishes overturned due to amendment technicalities.


Editorial Board

Amendment A, which legalized recreational marijuana in South Dakota and was approved by 54% of voters in the 2020 general election, was declared unconstitutional by a South Dakota court this week. 

A circuit judge appointed by Gov. Kristi Noem, argued that the amendment would have “far-reaching effects on the basic nature” of the state’s government to the point of being unconstitutional.

This rejection comes after two law enforcement officers sued on the grounds that the legislation was considered a revision to the constitution, not an amendment.

This has us wondering, why wasn’t the amendment proposed the correct way before putting it before the voters? Is this a creative loophole to stop the legalization of marijuana?

According to Keloland, the director of the Legislative Research Council, a nonpartisan policy support office, warned backers of Amendment A that it had constitutional issues, but no changes were made prior to it being put before voters. 

This is a severe disservice to South Dakota voters who voted in support of the amendment only to be let down due to legal jargon.

Who should get the blame for this? The court? Those that challenged it? Or the group that failed to properly vet their legislation? 

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, a statewide political action committee, was the main driver of the legislation.   

The committee has said that their mission was to “provide relief to patients, improve public safety and strengthen South Dakota’s economy.”

South Dakotans voted in favor of recreational marijuana, not on the precise language of the legislation. 

They voted for the possession, taxation and licensing of marijuana products, not whether the legislation was an amendment or a revision. 

With a clear poll on Marijuana popularity, it’s time for petitioners to write ballot measures to vet their legislation properly and the South Dakota Legislature to take up marijuana laws and give the people what they clearly want.

The Collegian Editorial Board meets weekly and agrees on the issue of the editorial. The editorial represents the opinion of The Collegian.