With the results of the 2020 election, the residents of South Dakota voted to legalize medical and recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis will become legal as of July 1; recreational is still under the scrutiny of the South Dakota Supreme Court to rule on whether it was a legal amendment. The Union County Board of County Commissioners heard the concerns of Union County State’s Attorney Jerry Miller at their meeting May 18 on the lack of guidance and regulations from the state.

Miller presented the commissioners with a potential ordinance to help prepare the county for the implementation of medical cannabis come July. It also would limit the number of dispensaries that would be allowed to conduct business within the county (not including municipalities).

“If the supreme court shoots down the contest to the election, in July it becomes effective, and if there is no ordinances in place, it would be legal everywhere [in the county] unless we have an ordinance for individuals to grow marijuana for recreational use,” Miller said.

Union County Deputy State’s Attorney Aaron J. Bates said that at the South Dakota State’s Attorney Association (SDSAA) annual meeting, they informed attendees that if an ordinance isn’t in place limiting the number of dispensaries in the county, the South Dakota Department of Health would issue a permit for every application they received until their maximum allowance has been met.

“So theoretically, there is no limit on the dispensaries approve the application for if the county doesn’t have a limit on that,” Bates said. “We can set the limit at zero; however, if the recreational is passed that legislation has language that says, ‘If the limit is set at zero then anybody in the county can grow marijuana.’”

Miller said he took the county’s liquor license ordinance and used that as a basis for the dispensary ordinance. He suggested limiting the number of dispensaries to one in the county, knowing that more could appear in the municipalities depending on how the cities decide to handle it.

Two things he pointed out in the proposed ordinance stated that dispensaries cannot operate on state or federal holidays and they have to cooperate with law enforcement and inform law enforcement of any loss, theft or break-in, no matter the monetary influence.

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.