PIERRE, S.D.(Press Release)- The South Dakota Supreme Court has issued the decision in Thom, Miller v. Barnett and In re Election Contest as to Amendment A. In a four–to–one decision, the Court held that Amendment A, as submitted to the voters in the November 2020 general election, violated the single subject requirement in the South Dakota Constitution. As a result of the constitutional violation, the Court has declared the amendment invalid.
The Court determined that the provisions of Amendment A embraced three separate and distinct subjects:
(1) Recreational Marijuana—by creating a comprehensive plan to constitutionally legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for all persons at least twenty–one years of age;
(2) Hemp—by constitutionally mandating that the Legislature pass laws regarding hemp; and
(3) Medical Marijuana—by constitutionally mandating that the Legislature pass laws ensuring access to marijuana for limited medical use for qualifying persons.
In reaching its decision, the majority opinion explained that the provisions involving recreational marijuana, hemp, and medical marijuana each have separate objects and purposes, which were not dependent upon or connected with each other.
The Court unanimously held that:
(1) the circuit court properly dismissed the election contest filed by Thom and Miller;
(2) neither Thom nor Miller had standing to challenge Amendment A, but Governor Noem’s written ratification of Miller’s declaratory judgment action allowed for the action to proceed as if it had been commenced by the
(3) the challenge to Amendment A was not required to be brought before
Governor Kristi Noem issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding Amendment A:
“South Dakota is a place where the rule of law and our Constitution matter, and that’s what today’s decision is about. We do things right – and how we do things matters just as much as what we are doing. We are still governed by the rule of law. This decision does not affect my Administration’s implementation of the medical cannabis program voters approved in 2020. That program was launched earlier this month, and the first cards have already gone out to eligible South Dakotans.”