Sioux Falls City Council passes medical marijuana guidelines, some still concerned about impact of regulations

Sioux Falls City Council passes medical marijuana guidelines, some still concerned about impact of regulations
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Medical marijuana is a go in Sioux Falls, as Tuesday night the City Council green-lighted regulations for its sale in the city; however, some fear the city’s regulations may make it difficult for those who need medical marijuana to obtain it.

A major concern some had was in regards to zoning, and where dispensaries could open up.

Criteria has been set at 1,000 feet from what is considered a “sensitive use” area; however, a conditional use permit would cut that restriction to only 500 feet.

Lincoln County Commissioner Joel Arends would like to see the distance set at 500 feet in the joint jurisdictional area shared between Sioux Falls and Lincoln County, with an exception for schools, which is addressed in state law. This would give more medical access to those who are seeking relief, and make the rules consistent between Sioux Falls and Lincoln County.

“Look at the type of people we’re talking about that are going to use medical cannabis, we’re talking about soldiers who are suffering from PTSD, who are coming back from Afghanistan, we’re talking about children with epilepsy, we’re talking about those people going through hospice care and end-of-life situations, and those are the type of people we need to look out for in society,” Arends said. “So, we need to bring them in further and they shouldn’t be treated like second-class citizens.”

City councilors have also capped the number of dispensaries allowed in Sioux Falls at five.

“We’re supposed to be a pro-business state, a pro-business county, a pro-business city, and we’re trying to regulate them out of business,” Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth said.

Arends says the tight regulations in Sioux Falls may drive dispensaries into other communities, like Harrisburg or Tea.

“It’s no secret that there are looser restrictions in most places other than Sioux Falls on this,” Arends said.

On the other side of things, the council slashed the cost of a dispensary license in half, rewrote some of the license revocation policy, and made a license transferable.

Even with the amendments to the regulations, there is still concern from Arends and Barth that the laws set in Sioux Falls do not reflect the voter’s will.

“We are doing a disservice to our citizens here in South Dakota when we want to regulate the use of medicine more restrictively than we do alcohol,” Arends said.

Barth says he’s worried medical cannabis is being over-regulated.

“My question is, what is it that the people want?” Barth said. “20,000 more people in Minnehaha County voted for medical marijuana than voted for Donald Trump, and I heard he did pretty well in the county, and so I think we need to do what the people want, not what we want.”

Members of the Sioux Falls City Council have said that medical cannabis guidelines are a work in progress, and they will update regulations when needed.

The ordinances passed Tuesday will go into effect on October 1.

To view the Sioux Falls City Ordinances, click here for zoning. Click here, for licensing.

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