Marijuana policies brought to local level

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LEAD — The city of Lead wants to put dispensary licenses for medical marijuana on hold until the state has developed guidelines and rules for the new businesses, something that is slated to happen by Oct. 29.

On Monday the Lead City Commission approved the first reading of the temporary ordinance to suspend dispensary licenses, and they are expected to give final approval at their June 7 meeting. Lead City Administrator Mike Stahl said while medical marijuana will become legal on July 1, the state of South Dakota has until Oct. 29 to establish guidelines and rules for the new practice. The city of Lead will be responsible for selling or assigning the licenses.

“Right now there is no control over it,” Stahl said. “Medical marijuana is here, and we’re not going to get rid of it. The city cannot turn down dispensaries at this time.”

Stahl said the state plans to give more control to municipalities for governing dispensary licenses. That includes where the facilities are located, how many are in the town, and how they are regulated.

The state will decide the required criteria a business must meet to become a dispensary, how marijuana is dispensed, what doctors can prescribe it, and qualifications for prescription holders.

Stahl said he expects other larger municipalities to take an in depth look at managing local control with rules and regulations, and so Lead will not have to “reinvent the wheel” in setting policy.

“There are guidelines from here to breakfast all over the United States,” Stahl said. “We just have to see which ones work for us.”

In November 2020, South Dakota voters approved by narrow margin two ballot measures that would legalize medical and recreational marijuana. The vote was historic, as it was the first time both types of marijuana usage have been approved on a single ballot. However, Gov. Kristi Noem challenged the legality of Amendment A, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state, saying that as a fundamental change to South Dakota’s governmental system the amendment should have gone through a Constitutional convention before it was placed on the ballot. The circuit court agreed with Noem, but the case was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments in late April but has not yet issued a ruling. If the high court overturns the circuit court ruling, recreational marijuana will also become legal July 1, and the state will have until 2022 to issue regulations for pot sales.

More pot particulars discussed in Deadwood

DEADWOOD — Deadwood’s conduct prohibited in public ordinance now includes cannabis ingestion and more as the subject was discussed, as the first reading of an ordinance placing a temporary moratorium on issuance of local medical cannabis establishment permits and/or licenses was approved by the city commission.

Following the discussion, the commission opted not to include a possession prohibition in the second reading and approval of the ordinance, choosing, instead, to simply prohibit cannabis ingestion in public places.

Deadwood Mayor Ruth, Jr. said cannabis consumption rules on city owned property will be established either by resolution or policy regarding employees or customers on city property.

City Legal Counsel Quentin Riggins said that as it relates to public properties, a lot of the issues will be covered through the existing ordinance, because they are open to the public.

“As it stands right now, they would be able to possess it in public, but not able to ingest it,” Ruth said.

In other business, the first reading of a temporary ordinance regarding issuance of local medical cannabis establishment permits and/or licenses passed through the commission.

“Because we’re quickly approaching July 1 and the cannabis laws go into effect at that time, it became necessary for us to address what we need to do in order to be ready for those laws to go into effect,” said Riggins. “Now because the state of South Dakota didn’t give any guidance through the legislature as to how these laws will go into effect, it’s important for us to either put in place zoning and planning regulations prior to July 1 or to create a moratorium on issuance of licenses until such time as the state puts forth their rules and regulations.”

The moratorium language the city prepared is language prepared by its insurance carrier and is language all other municipalities will be using in order to put moratoriums in place across the state.

“I think it’s the way to approach the topic at this point,” Riggins said. “We could start working on ideas for planning and zoning and cannabis distributors, but at least for now, without any guidance from the state, I believe the best course of action is to place a moratorium that will run until the state comes up with their rules.”

Commissioner Gary Todd asked if there is any indication when the state might address the issue.

“I think they’re waiting to see what happens at the supreme court level, but at the same time, it’s my understanding that there’s going to be some conferences that will occur with the idea that by fall we might see some better idea of what the regulation will look like,” Riggins said.

Riggins said if the city doesn’t have a moratorium and someone applies for a license July 1, the city must issue them a license.

“So, this says we’re going to place a moratorium now, so if anybody does come forward in an effort to get a license, that’s in effect, they’ll have to wait until the state decides how to issue licenses,” Riggins.

“We’re putting it off until the state gets its ducks in a row, so that then we can get our ducks properly in a row,” said Commissioner Sharon Martinisko.

Mayor David Ruth, Jr. said it also gives the city, as a municipality, the ability to also get everything in order in regard to locations and other particulars.  

“There are things we need to discuss and establish and we’re not ready to do that just yet,” Ruth said.

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