Medical marijuana one month away from legalization

RAPID CITY, S.D. —  South Dakota is a month out from legalizing medical marijuana, but legislators still have questions they want answered.

“As we dig into Initiated Measure 26, we see more problems than solutions,” said district 32 Senator Helene Duhamel. “Very, very complicated. If this is truly medicine, why treat it any different than any other medicine?”

To answer questions raised by Initiated Measure 26, members of the legislatures interim study committee will visit marijuana facilities in bordering states to observe cultivation and retail of the drug. Some of the concerns are language that allows a cultivation of a minimum of three plants, without providing a maximum, and defining “under the influence” for employer protections. Lawmakers are also concerned about quality control with home-grown marijuana, and forms of ingestion.

“We know that the voter wants medical marijuana, but it’s very doubtful that any voter read 92 sections of what’s in IM26,” said Duhamel. “So we’re picking apart each section to see what it does, what it doesn’t do. In my humble opinion, short of repeal and replace and do it right, we’re trying to fix IM26 and the things that are wrong with it.”

Medical marijuana is the main focus of the group, but there is also a study on recreational use.

“We’ve broken it up into a committee for the medical marijuana IM26 and a committee to be more forward thinking on adult use marijuana,” said Duhamel. “And try to get ahead of a future referendum where people are again voting potentially on recreational marijuana. So we’ll look at penalties, ingestion laws, and how we treat this.”

Rapid City officials will also be meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss an emergency ordinance clarifying the status and legality of medical cannabis establishment, that is dispensaries and manufacturing facilities.

“Just like any other business, where can those go,” said Rapid City attorney, Joel Landeen. “What, if any requirements or regulations are going to be imposed on those businesses beyond the state?”

“Similar to when someone is running a brewery, there’s background checks, and such,” said interim community development director, Vicki Fischer. “And we don’t double mandate that, we just ensure that they have that state license, and then we know that those things have been addressed. So we need to look at it, and if there’s something that’s not included that we feel needs to be included, we would add that then to our requirements.”

Although legalized July first, the state has until October 29th to develop rules.

“All the municipalities have been kinda waiting to see what the state does,” said Landeen. “And at this point while the communities are either moving forward not knowing what the state rules are, or doing something similar to what we’re doing. Which is saying, we are going to zone this or regulate where these are located, but we can’t really adopt our regulations until we know what the state’s doing.”

Following discussion of the ordinance, the first council reading will take place Monday evening. 

Categories: Cannabis Legislation, Local News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News