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South Dakota cities prepare for medical cannabis guidelines

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Cities across South Dakota are in the final stages of approving their medical cannabis ordinances, determining where and how many dispensaries can be set up in each municipality.

The South Dakota Department of Health is expected to release its finalized guidelines for cities next month, and those cities have been preparing. The Mitchell City Council passed its ordinance on Monday. And in Aberdeen, the City Council had the first reading of its ordinance this week as well.

The Aberdeen ordinance would cap the number of dispensaries in the city at six. Though a final number has not been set yet for any fee, City Manager Joe Gaa said there will be one for businesses. Gaa said, however, that many of the details in the ordinance are dependent on the guidelines passed down by the Department of Health next month, delaying how soon the city can start accepting applications.

“We know we’ll have to wait a little bit and make sure our guidelines all lineup. But we will not be able to accept applications any time before those guidelines,” said Gaa.

It’s the same story in Watertown. The City Council passed its ordinance last week, setting a limit of three dispensaries in the city with an application fee of $25,000. City Manager Amanda Mack said the city administration knows they’ll need to be prepared to revisit some items should the state guidelines call for it.

“But we know that we’re probably going to have to make changes. We know the legislature is probably going to make changes in the coming session. So I guess the biggest thing for us is just to be flexible.” said Mack.

Gaa said though that many cities in the state have done everything they can to prepare for their first sales. He said even if there are a few more bumps in the road, the rollout in Aberdeen should go smoothly.

“I think we’re going to be in pretty good timing, I think with the state guidelines coming out. We’ve not taken the approach that we don’t want this. We know it’s law, we know the voters approved it, and we’re ready here to move forward.” said Gaa.

Gaa said if everything goes according to plan, Aberdeen will start accepting permit applications within 30-60 days, no later than the first week of December.

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