South Dakota passed legislation on Election Day 2020 to legalize recreational marijuana use by adults, bringing the total number of states where recreational marijuana has been legalized to 19. At the federal level, however, the Drug Enforcement Administration continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” These rapidly changing marijuana laws across the US can make you feel dazed and confused. We at the Buffalo Chip are here to clear up the smoke.
On June 30, 2021, the South Dakota Highway Patrol (SDHP) published a framework for implementation of Initiated Measure 26 (IM 26) in order to promote consistency in approach among law enforcement and for the benefit of the public.
After the first of July, stops and interactions with the public involving marijuana will largely fall into one of the following categories: Residents with a medical card, and residents without a medical card.
Medical Marijuana Regulations
For residents with a medical card: as long as you have three ounces or less of natural and unaltered marijuana and possess an unexpired medical cannabis card issued by another state or if you’re an enrolled tribal member and have an unexpired medical cannabis card issued by your tribe, law enforcement personnel should not arrest or seize the marijuana.
For residents without a medical card: as long as you have three ounces or less of natural and unaltered marijuana and claim that the marijuana is to treat or alleviate one of the debilitating medical conditions, AND you have printed or electronic documentation from a licensed doctor that you have a debilitating medical condition, law enforcement personnel should not arrest or seize the marijuana.
For non-residents: as long as you have three ounces or less of natural and unaltered marijuana, possess an unexpired medical cannabis card issued by another state, the officer should not arrest and seize the marijuana or any associated drug paraphernalia for marijuana use.
"If they don't have a medical card,
they will be arrested."
- Police Chief VanDewater
What Will Get You Arrested?
It is still illegal to drive under the influence of medical cannabis, and officers WILL enforce the state’s impaired driving laws. In addition, all passengers are prohibited from smoking or consuming marijuana. All marijuana will be seized in excess of three ounces. If you make a false statement about your medical use of cannabis, you can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor. Officers will continue to take normal enforcement actions in connection with other criminal offenses, including drug trafficking, even if those offenses occurred or uncovered when interacting with individual(s) possessing allowable amounts of cannabis.
As of this publication, the South Dakota Supreme Court has not made a ruling on the Amendment A case, so RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA USE IS STILL ILLEGAL in the state. Meade County Sheriff’s Office and Sturgis Police Department will honor SDHP’s framework. Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater encourages folks to conduct their research and stay informed. During this prohibition transition, Chief VanDewater admits there’s going to be a learning curve these next few months but succinctly added “If they have a medical card, they will not be arrested. If they have a medical card but it’s not on them, they will not be arrested. If they don’t have a medical card, they will be arrested.” The state’s attorney general’s office declined to comment.
Updates will be provided when necessary. Ride safe. Ride Sober.
Governor Noem’s Press Release About the Framework
South Dakota Department of Health – Medical Cannabis
South Dakotans For Better Marijuana Laws – Constantly updated
Meade County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Ron Merwin
1400 Main Street
Sturgis, SD 57785
Sturgis Police Department
Chief of Police – Geody VanDewater
1400 Main Street
Sturgis, SD 57785