President Trump isn’t the only casualty from election night looking to overturn the results. In three states – Montana, Mississippi and South Dakota – that approved ballot measures to legalize marijuana, lawsuits have been filed to prevent this from happening.
68 percent of Mississippi voters said yes to legalizing medical cannabis, and a thumping 74 percent of those voters expressed a preference for a citizen-led initiative outlining the state’s medical marijuana program over a restrictive proposal submitted by the legislature. The city of Madison has taken issue with this by filing a lawsuit to invalidate the ballot measure. The plaintiffs contend Mississippi’s legislature failed to update signature gathering requirements to put a proposal on the ballot, and as such the result should not be recognized. The suit was filed in the days running up to the vote and the state Supreme Court will hear the arguments later in December.
Attorneys representing the group behind the ballot proposal dismissed the lawsuit as a desperate move, and noted that if it proved successful it could also call “into question past constitutional amendments by initiative.”
In South Dakota, voters not only approved a ballot measure to legalize medical cannabis, they also said yes to another to establish a legal adult-use marijuana market. It’s the second one – Constitutional Amendment A – that opponents have filed a lawsuit against. The plaintiffs argue the measure violates the requirement that such initiatives can only concern one proposal. In this case, the reasoning is marijuana legalization and a regulated cannabis industry are two separate issues.
In the aftermath of the results, Gov. Kristi Noem made clear her continued opposition to the expressed will of South Dakota’s voters.
“I was personally opposed to these measures and firmly believe they’re the wrong choice for South Dakota’s communities,” Noem said. “We need to be finding ways to strengthen our families, and I think we’re taking a step backward in that effort.”
In Montana, Initiative 190 to legalize adult-use cannabis was approved by 57 percent of voters. This result has been challenged by the pressure group Wrong for Montana which campaigned against the legalization proposal. The lawsuit claims the initiative is unconstitutional since it allocates tax revenues from marijuana sales for specific purposes, such as nature conservation, which is a responsibility that should only fall on the state legislature.
“I’m a little dissatisfied at the process between the secretary of state and the attorney general to allow non-factual stuff to be set as a fact,” said Steve Zabawa, treasurer for Wrong for Montana. “And then not to look in the Montana Constitution. It’s black and white that a ballot initiative cannot appropriate the money.”
Deputy director of NORML, Paul Armentano, condemned the lawsuits as a futile exercise that threatens the democratic process.
“These are cynical, and arguably frivolous, attempts to undermine the democratic process. Legalization opponents have shown time and time again that they cannot succeed in either the court of public opinion or at the ballot box,” said Armentano. “Thus, they are now asking judges to set aside the votes of over a million Americans in a desperate effort to override undisputed election outcomes. Whether or not one supports marijuana legalization, Americans should be outraged at these overtly undemocratic tactics.”
New Jersey and Arizona also voted to approve adult-use cannabis legalization at the November elections, while Oregon voted to decriminalize possession of all drugs.