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Sioux Falls City Council working to implement medical marijuana guidelines

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 3:45 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Medical marijuana will soon be making its way to Sioux Falls, but city leaders are still working to set guidelines.

The first reading of licensing and zoning ordinances is being held at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, as the clock ticks to implement regulations on medicinal cannabis. In compliance with the state, municipalities have until early October to set regulations.

In November of last year, voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of IM 26, legalizing medicinal cannabis in South Dakota. Since then, the state as well as its cities, have been working hard to set guidelines for medical marijuana.

Tuesday night, Sioux Falls City Councilors will take up both a licensing and a zoning ordinance regarding the issue.

“They work as a package, but essentially the license ordinance would tell us what the fee would be to run a marijuana business and some of the rules they would have to follow, and zoning really gets into where can the businesses be located, how far can they be from houses, and schools, and things like that,” Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert said.

If approved as is, the city would issue five dispensary licenses, which would be awarded through a random lottery in the instance there are more than five applicants.

“The approach we’ve taken overall, with all of this, is we want to start slow and cautious,” Neitzert said.

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken allowing five dispensaries provides a good starting point for the city.

“If we determine that five is not enough, at some point we can expand the ordinance, but it’s very hard to ever contract that and bring that back in, so it’s a very practical, pragmatic start to medical cannabis in Sioux Falls,” TenHaken said.

Those dispensaries would be subject to a $100,000 licensing fee every two years, with much of that money going back into community education campaigns.

“Now there is going to be access to cannabis in households, and what do kids need to know? What do parents need to know? What do our youth need to know?” TenHaken said.

TenHaken says this issue has been something both his office and the council have investigated thoroughly.

“There has been months and months of research and work that has gone into where we are landing (Tuesday night).”

Councilor Neitzert says the whole process has been “a lot” of work but that city leaders have reached a “really good” middle-ground.

In the end, TenHaken says the goal is to get medical marijuana to those who need it, safely and responsibly.

“We’re trying to balance what makes Sioux Falls great while also respecting the will of the voters, and allowing that access for medical cannabis,” TenHaken said.

For more information about Medical Cannabis in South Dakota, click here.

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