SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In 2020, South Dakota voters passed Initiated Measure 26, approving the use of medical marijuana.
People with a South Dakota medical marijuana card are allowed to purchase up to three ounces of cannabis products at a state-licensed dispensary. That prompted cultivation companies to begin operations in South Dakota. One of them is located in Brandon.
Buy medical marijuana in South Dakota, and there is a good chance this is where it came from.
Shangri-La Cultivation sells to dispensaries all over the state. At this facility, there are separate rooms full of marijuana plants. Some big, some small. Once a plant reaches 12 inches, it is tagged.
“They can pull up all the tags right now in Pierre and see every plant that we have growing in here,” said Brian Ruben.
Ruben says security is tight and regulations are taken seriously. Shangri-la is in the midst of changing its whole growing operation to be more efficient. In order to get the plant to flower, and produce high-quality buds, they trick the marijuana plants into thinking it is fall. Chief Operating Officer TJ Cameron says they do that by shutting off the lights.
“So when you change the lights from less than 12 hours of daylight where it becomes 12 hours of darkness the plant recognizes that the days are becoming shorter and it begins to flower,” said Cameron.
The flower or buds contain a higher quality product. Joel is one of the 15 or so employees, he trims the lower portion of the plant to send more energy to the buds.
“He is wearing a green light similar to what I would be carrying, and I can walk in this room with the lights off, and the plant doesn’t recognize green light in an LED form in certain spectrums. It thinks it is still pitch black so this room would be pitch black. we turned on the lights for you guys today he will continue to wear his green headlamp because as soon as we walk out of this room, we will kick the lights off, but the plant doesn’t realize its green headlamp is a light. It thinks it’s dark out,” said Cameron.
The cannabis industry in South Dakota is regulated by the state Department of Health. As of this week, just under 12,000 people in the state are qualified to buy medical marijuana. As it becomes more acceptable, those in the industry expect that number will grow, and so will operations like this.