Lawmakers and law enforcement officials looking at the next steps of marijuana legalization
RAPID CITY, S.D. — South Dakota has joined a small number of states that have completely legalized marijuana.
Although many lawmakers and law enforcement officials were not in favor of legalizing the drug, they are now tasked with making sure it happens safely.
53% of voters were in support of recreational use and 69% in support of medical use.
Similar to alcohol and tobacco, legislators will work to regulate the sale, distribution and use of marijuana. Even with support from the voters, there are still challenges, one being how to prosecute DUI‘s.
“There is no state, even those that have recreational marijuana, that has come up with a similar nanograms per milliliter, for marijuana in the blood that would then allow us to prosecute in the same way,” said Pennington County States Attorney Mark Vargo. “So, those cases will get prosecuted more on simply an impairment theory.”
Although law enforcement will not be able to prosecute for marijuana use, it’s not expected to have a significant impact on daily activities.
Most marijuana related prosecutions in Rapid City are accompanied by multiple charges, rather than single drug charges. As for local distribution, cities have some say in the sale of the drug, but it is limited.
“The initiated measure in particular, restricts the ability of counties and cities to limit the number of dispensaries or the type, the rules for dispensaries. They have to be reasonable,” said Vargo.
While legislators work to regulate marijuana use, the legalization will not come into effect until next year, and until that time can still be prosecuted.
Vargo said, “Marijuana remains illegal under South Dakota stature until July 1. And so people should not get too itchy to pretend that we’re Denver just yet.”