“Let the State Decide:” Medical Marijuana Backers Sue Secretery of State
16,000 plus voters signed these petitions, and their voices don't get to be heard
Melissa Mentele hand delivered nearly 17,000 petitions to the Secretary of State’s Office last November, with hopes of getting medical marijuana on the ballot this November.
“We had lots of great response. So we know that this is a great issue in South Dakota. The bill is phenomenal, it covers everything. It covers all those questions that the state has always in the past said, ‘Well, this isn’t clarified, and this isn’t clarified.’ We clarified everything.”
The bill aims to legalize marijuana for medical use only by qualified patients.
But as it stands now, voters won’t be able to decide on the issue.
“16,000 plus voters signed these petitions, and their voices don’t get to be heard based on a technicality.”
Mentele says a few months after handing in the petitions she was notified that there were not enough valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot.
But she claims South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs’ office made errors in that validation process.
“We did the math on it and it turned out she had sampled six percent instead of the five, which invalidated the first sample. They responded to the challenge by sampling it again but then closing off the challenge for us. So our rights were taken away.”
Mentele has filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State, which Krebs’ office said they’re reviewing.
“We as a ballot circulating committee have to jump through all these hoops to be able to circulate in South Dakota and we did everything that we were supposed to, having good faith that they were going to do what they were supposed to do and that had not happened. The premise of the complaint is that they didn’t follow their own laws. “
The complaint alleges that Krebs violated South Dakota law by over sampling and not properly notifying Mentele of the rejection.
“They failed to notify us of any denial, I got I got the press release and a phone call, which is not per South Dakota law.”
An expedited hearing has been ordered for a judge to resolve the case by August 16th in order to make the ballot this November.
“Now we just need a judge to say okay, you followed the rules, the signatures are there, let’s put this on the ballot and let the state decide.”
Mentele says this time; she hopes South Dakota will be on the right side of history.
“It isn’t a fight against stoners, they’re fighting patients. They’re fighting babies and it has gotten to the point where it’s ridiculous. Let us vote on it. Let the state decide.”