SD governor defends lawsuit to overturn recreational cannabis legalization

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South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem issued an executive order that indicated she is behind the effort to overturn voter-approved recreational cannabis legalization and that she has the right to challenge legalization as part of her duty to defend the state’s constitution.

The two-page executive order issued Friday noted that she instructed South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Rick Miller to initiate the lawsuit in November.

Noem claimed in the executive order that the recreational marijuana ballot initiative, validated by the secretary of state and approved by voters by a 54.2%-45.8% margin, “violated the procedures set forth in the South Dakota Constitution.”

The suit claims the ballot measure improperly dealt with more than one subject and needed to be placed on the ballot through a state convention.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, which backed the constitutional amendment, has said the lawsuit is trying to “overturn the will of the voters on the basis of two incorrect legal theories.”

South Dakota’s attorney general has defended the initiative.

Noem’s challenge reflects how groups are trying to use the courts to kill marijuana legalization ballot initiatives, especially in conservative states.

In Montana, lawmakers also balked at approving a budget request to set up a department to handle recreational marijuana applications.

South Dakota was the first state in the country to simultaneously legalize medical and recreational marijuana at the ballot box.