Supreme Court to hear recreational marijuana case this month

April 8, 2021 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of a voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana this spring.

The justices will hear oral arguments in a challenge to the amendment on April 28 at the state Capitol, the Argus Leader reported. Attorneys representing the organization South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws appealed a lower court ruling striking down the amendment.


The ballot measure garnered 54% support in the Nov. 3 election.

Two law enforcement officers, Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, sued to block marijuana legalization by challenging its constitutionality.

Miller was effectively acting on behalf of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who had opposed the effort to legalize pot. His legal expenses are being covered by the state, authorized by Gov. Kristi Noem through an executive order.

The attorneys, representing South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws and several other marijuana advocates, argued that their opponents should face a high burden to prove that the state’s constitution was violated by the amendment.

In February, a Hughes County judge ruled the measure was unconstitutional because it violated a requirement that constitutional amendments be limited to a single topic. Judge Christina Klinger also said the amendment gave sole governing authority around marijuana to the South Dakota Department of Revenue, not the Legislature.

A separate ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana only is set to take effect July 1.