It was too good to be true - one of the most conservative U.S. states voting to legalize marijuana on November 6 by a 53%-47% margin.
On February 8, Amendment A was struck down in a Circuit Court in Pierre. "The failure to submit Amendment A through the proper constitutional process voids the amendment and it has no effect," Judge Christina Klinger wrote in the 12-page decision.
She took issue with two technicalities: that the amendment is about more than one topic (as opposed to a single subject) and it conflicts with the state Constitution. The title of the Amendment "has two distinct subjects: the legalization of marijuana and hemp," the Judge opined. "Amendment A defines marijuana and hemp as separate terms... although marijuana and hemp both originate from the cannabis plant." There's also much discussion about whether the measure is an actual amendment or merely a revision of the Constitution.
Klinger determined the amendment is unconstututional and a revision "as it has far-reaching effects on South Dakota's governmental system."
In many legal marijuana states, such as Colorado anbd California, voters have approved amendments to Constitutions. None of these votes have been overturned, until now.
"We disagree with the ruling and we're preparing our appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court," South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws' Brendan Johnson commented.
Amendment A was slated to go into effect on July 1, ending criminal penalties for marijuana possession and creating a regulated market in the Mount Rushmore State.