In a major blow to South Dakota’s burgeoning legal marijuana industry, a district court judge ruled that a voter-approved constitutional amendment to legalize adult cannabis was unconstitutional.
The amendment for recreational marijuana would have been in effect on July 1, but that won’t happen unless the judge’s order on appeal is overturned, the Associated Press reported.
Former US District Attorney Brendan Johnson, who sponsored the legalization measure known as Amendment A and defended it in court, said the supporters were preparing an appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court.
Johnson said the challenge was merely an effort to overthrow the will of voters.
In November, voters in South Dakota voted for Amendment A with 54.2% and Measure 26, which legalized medical marijuana, with 53.5%.
These victories made South Dakota the first state to legalize the adult use and medical marijuana market at the same time.
Three weeks later, opponents – supported by Kristi Noem, Governor of Marijuana – filed a lawsuit against the constitutionality of Amendment A.
Sixth Circuit Judge Christina Klinger’s decision does not affect the state’s medical marijuana law.
The judge ruled that Amendment A violated a South Dakota law that required amendments to amend the state’s constitution to focus on only one subject. The law also prohibits extensive changes to the state government.
Klinger, who was appointed Circuit Court judge by Noem in 2019, said the change exceeded the executive and legislative branches of the government by empowering the state’s Treasury Department to monitor recreational marijuana, according to the Associated Press.