South Dakota turned heads last year around election time by first legalizing both recreational and medical cannabis, then immediately facing backlash over the decision to legalize. Now, litigation is officially underway to try and put a stop to recreational cannabis becoming a reality, and Republican Governor Kristi Noem is backing the opposition, something which she did not admit to until just recently.
Using her power as governor, Noem is facilitating litigation that aims to overthrow voter approval of Constitutional Amendment A, the amendment that was officially passed to make adult use cannabis legal in South Dakota. The measure passed at 54 percent of voters backing legal cannabis, a small margin, but still definitely a win.
Last week, on Friday, Kristi Noem issued an executive order that claims the petitioners against the legislation, which in this case is two police officers who are challenging the legality of this new amendment passing, are acting upon her instruction. “I directed [petitioners] to commence the Amendment A litigation on my behalf,” she states in the official order.
The law enforcement officers are claiming that the amendment is unconstitutional and that adding the new amendment would be breaking the rules of South Dakota’s constitution, and therefore cannot legally be added, even though the amendment passed.
Kristi Noem Is A Known Opponent
It’s no surprise that Kristi Noem opposes the newly legalized industry, as she has been public about her opposition to legal cannabis before Amendment A passed. She also opposes Measure 26, the measure in South Dakota that officially legalized producing and dispensing medical cannabis to patients in need. However, she is taking no legal action there. The medical measure was more popular overall, not just with Noem. It passed at a 70 percent margin and has so far not been challenged.
In an official statement from NORML, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said: “These are cynical attempts to undermine the democratic process. Legalization opponents have shown time and time again that they cannot succeed in either the court of public opinion or at the ballot box. Thus, they are now asking judges to set aside the votes of over a million Americans in a desperate effort to override undisputed election outcomes. Whether or not one supports marijuana legalization, Americans should be outraged at these overtly undemocratic tactics.”
While this is bad news for South Dakota, and certainly puts a damper on their legalization plans, the state is not alone in seeing opposition to the legal industry. Elected officials in Mississippi are actively trying to have Measure 65, the measure that legalized recreational cannabis, thrown out. Montana anti-cannabis advocates are also speaking out against Initiative 190, another recreational-use amendment that passed by a small margin of 57 percent.
As this nation has seen on a federal level, the new trend seems to be to challenge legislation that passes by any legal (and in some cases, not-so-legal) means possible. It remains to be seen whether any of these states will see success changing cannabis laws, but South Dakota and the other newly legal states surely have advocates who will keep up the fight until a true industry can be established.