South Dakota communities preparing for legalization of medical marijuana

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YANKTON, SD (KCAU) — In just a couple months, medicinal marijuana will be legal in South Dakota and right now, city officials are trying to prepare as best as they can.

“The city council has had its first reading on medical marijuana, one is a zone ordinance, and the other is a license ordinance,” said John Prescott, the city manager of Vermillion.

Although many meetings have been called to discuss this topic, officials from numerous towns said they haven’t come to any concrete decisions.

“Everybody is just feeling their way through this at this point, we’re a step ahead of most other places,” said Yankton city attorney Ross Den Herder.

The city of Yankton is working with consultants from Colorado on how to best manage and run the potential dispensaries, while simultaneously sorting through the legalities and although it officially takes effect July 1, state leaders say permits to sell might not come at that same date.

“As I review the state statutes, there is a frame work in which an individual from outside of the state has a lawful medical marijuana card in the jurisdiction where they come from, will likely have the ability to obtain medical marijuana from a South Dakota dispensary,” said Den Herder.

In simpler terms, out-of-state residents shouldn’t have problems purchasing their prescription here but may possibly be asked to apply for a medical marijuana card in both their home state and South Dakota.

“We won’t actually have a dispensary in Yankton, for quite sometime,” said Den Herder.

“It does note that no license will be processed until the state promulgates the rules which is anticipated before the end of October this year,” said Prescott.

Although the law will take effect in just a few months, officials predict things won’t start happening until late this fall.

However, you can still run the risk of being charged with possession.

“We call it an affirmative defense to prosecution, which means if you meet the statutory criteria, it involves getting the help of your doctor to verify you need it, could potentially help an individual get out of a pending prosecution,” said Den Herder.

Due to legalities, Yankton city officials said they will only have two dispensaries in their town, at least for now.

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