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July 2021 Pierre Mayor's Report

July 2021 Pierre Mayor's Report

Medical Marijuana is about to be legal in South Dakota. So, how are we going to handle it? That’s a good question! City staff has been wrestling with that very issue since voters passed IM26 last November.

We plan to regulate the drug in Pierre, but the details of how to do that remain a little hazy. Here’s why.

City ordinance must align with state administrative rules. And the state administrative rules have yet to be written. I’m not being critical of the state. Standing up a whole new statewide regulatory process is no small feat!

It’s also no small feat to set up a whole new regulatory process at the city level! We know we have the authority to regulate the medical marijuana industry. Specifically, we have some degree of control of the time, place, manner and number of establishments. Those medical marijuana businesses can include dispensary, cultivation, testing and manufacturing businesses.

What we don’t have are the navigational beacons provided by state administrative rules. So, for now, we’re using a temporary local ordinance. It says the city will issue no permits or licenses to medical marijuana establishments until the state passes its rules. The state should have that done in late October.

After that, we’ll come back with a permanent local ordinance to regulate the industry in Pierre.

We have received a number of questions at city hall from people interested in opening some sort of medical marijuana business. They’d like to know what the process is going to look like, how much it will cost to get licensed, how many licenses will be available, how long it’s going to take, and what the rules are going to look like.

The short answer is, we don’t know. We’re stuck in the holding pattern right along with those entrepreneurs.

We’re talking with other communities about how they’re approaching the situation. We’re reviewing our zoning and business licensing ordinances, and we’re drawing some parallels between liquor licensing and medical marijuana permitting. We’re hoping all this work will help us be positioned to take quick action once the state rules are in place.

With that said, it will still take the city time to react to the state’s actions and to pass ordinance through the commission process.

I know people are anxious for answers. We are too!

July 1 might be the day medical marijuana becomes legal in South Dakota, but it’ll take us a bit longer to get the industry licensed in Pierre.

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