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Pennington County sheriff sues to block recreational marijuana in South Dakota

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 4:50 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and Colonel Rick Miller, Superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol are suing to block the newly passed Amendment A Marijuana Law in Hughes County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit cites two reasons Amendment A violates South Dakota’s constitution: that the current amendment process has a “one-subject rule” adopted two years ago by voters.

The lawsuit contends that Amendment A has five subjects in its title, 15 sections and 55 subsections. The suit also refers to Article 23 of the State Constitution regarding amendments and revisions. The lawsuit says Amendment A is technically a “revision” of the constitution, not actually an amendment.

A constitutional revision requires a three-quarters vote by both houses of the South Dakota Legislature to call a Constitutional Convention in order to revise the state’s constitution.

According to the South Dakota Constitution:

A convention to revise this Constitution may be called by a three-fourths vote of all the members of each house. The calling of a constitutional convention may be initiated and submitted to the voters in the same manner as an amendment. If a majority of the voters voting thereon approve the calling of a convention, the Legislature shall provide for the holding thereof. Members of a convention shall be elected on a nonpolitical ballot in the same districts and in the same number as the House of Representatives. Proposed amendments or revisions approved by a majority of all the members of the convention shall be submitted to the electorate at a special election in a manner to be determined by the convention.

Gov. Kristi Noem was also an opponent of Amendment A, which passed along with Initiated Measure 26, which allows for medicinal marijuana.

The lawsuit filed today by Sheriff Thom does not involve Measure 26.

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