Deadwood discussing cannabis conduct and consumption

Cannabis consumption is expected to be prohibited on public transportation and in public places in Deadwood, with the passage of second reading of an ordinance amending conduct prohibited in public. Pioneer file photo

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DEADWOOD — There will be no taking a toke on the trolley or puffing on pot at Outlaw Square or any other public place, as the Deadwood City Commission heard the first reading of an ordinance amending conduct prohibited in public that addresses cannabis.

“This is the first of what will likely be several ordinance changes due to South Dakota’s new marijuana laws,” said Deadwood Legal Counsel Quentin Riggins.

The council plans to amend Ordinance 9.12.040 that deals with other conduct that is not allowed in public places. For example: appearing nude in public, touching exotic dancers while performing, urinating in public, and more.

“South Dakota statute allows us as a municipality to restrict the use of marijuana in public places in two instances,” Riggins said.

He said that the ordinance would be amended to prohibit a person from possessing or ingesting cannabis on any form of public transportation. And in to make it unlawful for any person to permit the use,  possession, or ingestion of cannabis in any public place.

Commissioner Gary Todd said he was concerned with possession being included in the ordinance, as well.

“If it’s legal to possess it, I guess I was having a hard time understanding how we could restrict possession,” Todd said. “I mean, I think it’s obvious we can restrict them from using.”

Riggins said he suspects the city won’t see anyone arrested for possessing it because the overall purpose of the ordinance is to make sure that businesses and people are not openly ingesting it in public.

“If we would like to remove ‘possession,’ we sure can,” Riggins said. “I don’t think that’s a big enough change that we would need to restart with first reading again, so that’s something, if you would like to revise, we can limit it only to consumption, as opposed to possession.”

Todd said he feels the concern he raised is legitimate and asked for input from Police Chief Ken Mertens whether or not the commission is right to question that portion of the ordinance.

“As the state law says, when it goes into effect July 1, you are able to, with a medical marijuana card, you’re able to possess up to three ounces,” Mertens said. “So, yeah, I can see your concern whether or not we can restrict someone from possessing.”

Planning and Zoning Administrator Jeramy Russell added that the possession restriction is in place for trolleys, with respect to alcohol.  

“Even though it’s legal to possess, we don’t allow you to possess it on the trolley, but the medical marijuana situation does complicate things some,” he said.

Russell pointed out that the city may want to be careful about restricting possession when an individual may have a prescription from a physician.

Second reading of the amended ordinance is expected to be held May 17.

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