Black Hills Sheriffs discuss marijuana guidance for Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

KELOLAND.com Original

The Sturgis Rally in 2012.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This story has been updated to include a response from Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere.


With the start of the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally just around the corner, some may be wondering about the planned enforcement of marijuana use during the event.

In an attempt to get answers, KELOLAND News reached out to sheriff’s offices around the Black Hills inquiring about their plans for the coming rally.

Pennington County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Helene Duhamel told KELOLAND News that there will be no change in policy from deputies in the county.

“The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office does not expect to see any significant changes in the way it handles cannabis cases as cannabis has not been decriminalized in Pennington County,” she writes. “One would have to have a medical reason to be in possession of three ounces or less marijuana in order to be in compliance with the law.”

Duhamel notes that regardless of medical status, using cannabis while operating a motor vehicle will remain illegal.

Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere says they will be reviewing each incident on a case by case basis, and they do not have a blanket policy for marijuana possession and use during the rally. “We do however uphold the Laws of the State of South Dakota and the south Dakota Constitution,” says Lamphere.

Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin told KELOLAND News that his office will be doing warrant requests for violations of medical marijuana over the legal limit (no more than 3 ounces) during the rally. No outside smoking or use in a motor vehicle will be allowed, and Merwin says anyone driving while impaired will be charged an taken to jail. He adds that they will honor out-of-state medical cards if they come across them.

When it comes to encounters with people who do not have a valid medical card, Merwin says they be taking things one situation at a time.

Lawrence County Chief Deputy Patrick Johnson says that the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office will not be making arrests for marijuana possession during the Rally. Johnson says that under their current process, deputies will seize the marijuana, file a report and pass it along to the State’s Attorney. After that point, he says no action will be taken until a ruling on recreational marijuana is made by the South Dakota Supreme Court.

The fate of recreational marijuana has been in limbo for several months now following a circuit court decision ruling that Amendment A was unconstitutional. Johnson says that once the case is settled, it will provide context for whether or not those caught with recreational marijuana will be prosecuted.

Johnson says that while this will be the course of action taken by the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, he cannot speak for other law enforcement agencies acting within the county, including city police departments and the Highway Patrol.

Tony Mangan, Public Information Officer with the Department of Public Safety says the Highway Patrol will not be altering their guidance during the rally, and will continue to follow the guidelines set forth at the end of June. Under this guidance, the highway patrol will not arrest those found in possession of less than 3 ounces of marijuana if they claim it is for medicinal purposes.

If the person cannot provide proof of a qualifying medical condition, the marijuana will be confiscated and decisions on prosecution will be left up to the county’s state’s attorney.

KELOLAND News also reached out to the sheriff’s offices in Butte and Custer counties, but we have not received a response. A representative for the Fall River County Sheriff’s Office told us our request has been forwarded to the Fall River State’s Attorney’s office for review. A response has not yet been received.

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