A Circuit Court judge has ruled in favor of litigation backed by the state Governor’s office that seeks to nullify Constitutional Amendment A – a voter-initiated measure legalizing the adult-use marijuana market in South Dakota. Fifty-four percent of voters decided in favor of the ballot measure on Election Day.

Commenting on the ongoing litigation, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Legalization opponents cannot succeed in the court of public opinion or at the ballot box. Thus, they are now seeking to overturn election results in a desperate attempt to maintain cannabis prohibition. Whether or not one supports marijuana legalization, Americans should be outraged at these overtly undemocratic tactics.”

Judge Christina Klinger of the state’s Sixth Judicial Circuit Court ruled late Monday that the measure violates state requirements that ballot measures not encompass more than one topic. The judge also ruled that the measure revises rather than amends the state’s Constitution, and therefore should not be permitted to move forward. Proponents of Measure A, South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, say that they will appeal the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court. In a Facebook post, the group pronounced: “This is not over. We will appeal. We will prevail.”

The group also backed another successful ballot initiative in November, Measure 26, legalizing medical marijuana access to qualified South Dakota patients. The results of that vote have not been legally challenged and the court’s ruling does not impact that law’s implementation.

The lawsuit challenging Amendment A was brought by two members of law enforcement at the behest of Republican Gov. Kristi Noem. Last month, the Governor issued an executive order stating, “I directed [petitioners] to commence the Amendment A litigation on my behalf.” Prior to the election, Gov. Noem publicly opposed both Amendment A as well as Measure 26

Further information is available from South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.


NORML advocates for changes in public policy so that the responsible possession and use of marijuana by adults is no longer subject to criminal penalties. NORML further advocates for a regulated commercial cannabis market so that activities involving the for-profit production and retail sale of cannabis and cannabis products are safe, transparent, consumer-friendly, and are subject to state and/or local licensure. Finally, NORML advocates for additional changes in legal and regulatory policies so that those who use marijuana responsibly no longer face either social stigma or workplace discrimination, and so that those with past criminal records for marijuana-related violations have the opportunity to have their records automatically expunged.

Find out more at norml.org and read our Fact Sheets on the most common misconceptions and myths regarding reform efforts around the country.

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