Reefer Madness Attacks Democracy in South Dakota and Idaho

Many Reefer Madness prohibitionists today try to claim that they aren’t of the same ilk as Harry Anslinger and lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key prohibitionists of the past, but the results are the same: unfair laws that punish people for utilizing a substance safer than legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. As cannabis legalization has gone mainstream across the nation, legal changes in traditional states has anti-cannabis officials turning to anti-democratic tactics to trample the will of the voters.

It was one thing to legalize cannabis on the West Coast and other seemingly progressive and then moderate states, but reforms passing in conservative states like Oklahoma, Missouri, Utah, and Mississippi has prohibitionists shook. On the heels of the Idaho Senate passing a constitutional ban on legalizing cannabis by one vote, a South Dakota judge has stricken down Amendment A, the state’s voter-approved constitutional provision, as The Hill reported:

A South Dakota judge ruled Monday that a voter-approved constitutional amendment that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use was in itself unconstitutional, setting up a legal fight that pits Gov. Kristi Noem (R) against her own constituents.

Circuit Court Judge Christina Klinger, a Noem appointee in Pierre, ruled that Amendment A violated a rule that ballot measures cover only a single subject, and that it does not conform to rules governing the way the state constitution is amended.

South Dakota voters approved Amendment A, which legalized recreational marijuana, by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin in November. A separate ballot measure legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes passed with almost 70 percent support.

Recent governmental actions against both common sense and the wishes of voters demonstrates how hard it is to end prohibition across the nation. If we want to implement reforms at the federal level, the cannabis community needs to help fellow advocates in conservative states. Each state that passes medical and adult-use laws adds more representatives and senators to our fight in Congress as, while there will be some holdouts, more politicians will reflect the will of their voters as their jobs are on the line. We’ve come a long way, but much more work to be done. Let’s keep at it and remember those suffering in prohibition states.

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