SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota finished up its first ever Industry Stakeholder Conference Thursday at noon. The two day event was held in Oacoma, South Dakota and hosted around 50 members from across the state.
The group is made up of people related to the cannabis industry in the state, including cultivators dispensary owners and other stakeholders such as attorneys. Association Executive Director Ned Horsted says the goal of the association is to provide input from those in the cannabis industry to the State of South Dakota “to set up the best cannabis law in the nation.” He says the association will provide its recommendations to the Department of Health on Friday.
Horsted says the association was founded prior to the last legislative session with the realization that the cannabis industry would need a voice in Pierre. “One of the first things we did was hire a lobbyist to speak on the industry’s behalf,” he says.
When it comes to specific goals, Horsted says the association was focusing on minor language changes, as well as larger state-level issues. “I think the large items that will need to be addressed from an industry perspective is how the state handles reciprocity with other states and tribes.”
Horsted also mentioned increased strength of testing guidelines as a priority to make sure the product that reaches the shelves is safe. Horsted says this is one area where he believes South Dakota can out-perform other states.
“One common problem that you seen in other states is how testing is handled. I think there’s a lot of work that can be done with the state to make sure that that’s addressed. We’ve noticed in some other states where you will have kind of a race to put a tag on a product that shows a higher THC content than is actually there.”Ned Horsted
Solutions to these issues Horsted says the association recommends include regulating who collects samples, how they are treated, and having a ‘blind’ sample of the product.
Horsted says that while the association is excitedly looking forward to the South Dakota Supreme Court’s decision on recreational marijuana, this particular conference revolved solely around medical marijuana.
Speaking about the only currently operational dispensary in the state, run by the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Horsted was complimentary. “I think by-and-large the industry is very excited that the Flandreau Tribe has been able to stand up a medical program the way that they have,” he says. “The Flandreau Tribe is a member of our association and I think they’ve done a wonderful job.”
Horsted says the most impactful part of the conference was just having all of the stakeholders present, both in-person and online. “To have so many people that are excited to earn decent income for them and their families as South Dakota entrepreneurs — it’s just excellent that we’re able to launch a new industry and the excitement around that, especially in person, is I think one of the most impactful things we saw these last few days.
With this conference as a first major step, Horsted says the association is excited to begin conversations with the state. “There’s never been a cannabis industry in the state before, so being able to bring some industry expertise and have some of those conversations — we’re very excited about the future.