Circuit Judge Denies Medical Marijuana Petition

Issue Will Not Be On November Ballot Barring Possible Supreme Court Challenge

Circuit Judge Mark Barnett denied ‘New Approach South Dakota’s’ petition to get medical Marijuana on the ballot this November.

He cited not enough evidence to prove the required number of signatures were there and not enough time to adequately determine wrongdoing by the Secretary of State’s office.

Sponsor of the petition, Melissa Mentele’s goal was to have a vote on the use of medical marijuana for authorized patients who suffer from painful diseases such as cancer.

Her attorney, Aaron Eisland said short notice was the downfall of their case.

“The errors committed by the Secretary of State have now forced this additional burden on these folks. Because of the short time clock, it’s essentially the reason why we weren’t able to fully challenge the Secretary of State’s decision,” said Eisland.

In order for a petition to make a ballot, it needs at least 13,871 signatures.

Reviews of petitions by the Secretary of State’s office involve going over items such as voter ID, address and signature dates of each signee.

After a first sample of the ballot found not enough signatures, flaws were admitted by the Secretary of State’s office.

After agreeing to do a second sample, they still found the petition to fall around one thousand votes short of the requirement.

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said she welcomes petition supporters to try again in the next election cycle.

“Come back in 2018, you can submit another petition or ballot measure for the 2018 general election. Make sure it’s in the proper form; make sure they have enough signatures. We absolutely want to get it to the people to vote that way,” said Secretary Krebs.

Tuesday’s decision does not necessarily mean the attempt for November’s ballot is done.

Mentele has the option to bring the decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

A decision has not been made at this point.

Eisland said it would difficult to do since ballots must be submitted by August 16th.

Eisland also said if they decide to challenge Tuesday’s decision, a Supreme Court hearing would have to be on Wednesday.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement today that the decision “affirms the hard work Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and her office put into ensuring the integrity of our election process.”

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