FLANDREAU, S.D. (KELO) — Medical marijuana is set to become legal in the state of South Dakota on July 1, but it will be November 2021 before the state will issue medical cards. There is however another avenue available for South Dakotans in need of medical cannabis.

The first operational medical marijuana dispensary will open July 1, 2021 in Flandreau in what was once a police station on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation. Seth Pearman, the Tribe’s Attorney General, says the Tribe’s program allows reciprocity with other state and jurisdictional medical programs, meaning that cards from other states will be accepted. The tribe will also be issuing their own cards.

Example of a tribal medical card

There’s two different ways basically that somebody can come onto the reservation and purchase at the Tribe’s dispensary. The first is they can take the application and they can go get a recommendation from their medical provider. We will take a look at that, print them a card, they pay their application fee and we’ll issue them a card for purchasing. The second is if they do that same process, except they can bring a medical card that’s valid from another state and we will then issue them a tribal card so they can purchase here too.

Seth Pearman, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe Attorney General

The application fee is $50, and the application can be accessed now on the Tribe’s website.

Pearman says that based on the wording of Initiated Measure 26, he believes it will be perfectly legal for anyone with a medical card on or after July 1 to purchase medical marijuana on the reservation and take it home with them.

“Anybody who participates in our program should meet those requirements so they would have an affirmative defense against prosecution when they leave the reservation,” he said.

While the Tribe is not sure exactly how many people to expect once July 1 comes, Pearman says that inefficiencies in other area programs may lead people from across the region, and even other states, to come to the reservation to purchase. In terms of supply, Native Nations Cannabis CEO Eric Hagen says between 80-85 pounds of marijuana can be harvested each week.

Pearman made sure to specify that marijuana will not be sold to anyone without a valid medical card or doctor’s recommendation.

In terms of what this dispensary means for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Pearman says that he hopes it will lead to the elimination of the black-market sale of marijuana in the area as well as providing a financial boost to the Tribe. Pearman mentioned that funds raised through the sale of medical cannabis could go toward the building of a new justice center on the reservation.

Pearman goes on to say that the Tribe’s possession of the first operational dispensary in South Dakota shows their level of organization and gives them the chance to set the standard for the way operations will be ran throughout the state in the future. He credits the Tribe’s ability to self-govern, along with the groundwork started in 2015, with their ability to go fully operational on July 1.

Looking into the future, Hagen expressed that their facility is fully prepared to incorporate recreational marijuana sales into the business if and when such use is legalized.

Take a look at KELOLAND’s coverage of the initial media tour of the Native Nations Cannabis facility on twitter.