Medical marijuana now legal in South Dakota; No ruling yet on recreational pot

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:06 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Medical marijuana is now officially legal in South Dakota, though recreational use of the substance remains on ice for now.

South Dakota voters approved two pot-related measures in the November election. Initiated Measure 26 legalized medical cannabis, while Amendment A legalized recreational pot.

Both were set to take effect July 1. However, two state law enforcement officers backed by Gov. Kristi Noem, a longtime opponent of marijuana, filed a lawsuit challenging Amendment A. In February, a judge ruled the measure was unconstitutional. Advocates appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the issue in April.

The state has been awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling ever since. No rulings were issued Thursday morning - the day the court issues new decisions - meaning South Dakotans will have to wait at least another week to learn the case’s fate. In the meantime, recreational pot remains illegal in the state.

Medical marijuana has also faced some bumps on its road to legality in South Dakota. Lawmakers started a push to move the legalization back a year to give the state more time to prepare, but that effort ultimately failed.

While medical cannabis is now legal, it will still be hard to come by. The Department of Health says medical marijuana cards will be required for patients to use the substance, but the state will not be ready to issue those cards until October or November.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe says it will issue medical cards to non-tribe members who have chronic medical conditions starting Thursday. However, Noem says a tribe-issued card would not protect someone from arrest by the Highway Patrol. Yet Noem said the Highway Patrol will honor medical cards issued by other states.

Other law enforcement issues around medical marijuana remain murky as well. Some local governments like Minnehaha County and the City of Sioux Falls, say they are deprioritizing prosecution of small amounts of pot. Plus, the Highway Patrol says it will not arrest someone who has less than three ounces of pot that can prove a medical condition.

The state has established a website with more details about its medical marijuana plant. You can find that here.

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