South Dakota: Republican Governor Officially Backing Litigation to Reject Voter-Approved Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Pierre, South Dakota: Republican Gov. Kristi Noem is using the power of her office to facilitate litigation that seeks to set aside voters’ approval of Constitutional Amendment A, which legalizes the adult-use marijuana market in South Dakota. Fifty-four percent of voters decided in favor of the ballot measure on Election Day.

This past Friday, the Governor issued an executive order stating that the petitioners challenging the election outcome, a pair of police officers, are doing so “upon my prior instruction.” Later in the order, the Governor reiterates, “I directed [petitioners] to commence the Amendment A litigation on my behalf.”

Prior to the election, Gov. Noem had publicly opposed both Amendment A as well as Measure 26 – a separate voter-initiated measure legalizing the production, use, and dispensing of cannabis to qualified patients. Seventy percent of voters passed that measure, which lawmakers have not elected to challenge.

In Mississippi, elected officials are also seeking to have the passage of a medical marijuana legalization ballot initiative, Measure 65, thrown out by the courts. In Montana, campaign opponents of Initiative 190 – which legalizes the adult use marijuana market and was approved by 57 percent of voters – are similarly seeking to have the courts strike down the election result. Both of those lawsuits remain ongoing.

Commenting on the litigation, 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.”

For more information, contact Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator.