S.D. universities will stay marijuana-free, regardless of medical marijuana program

Capitol News Bureau

MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s public universities won’t allow medical marijuana use on campuses or at university-sponsored events, the state Board of Regents decided Wednesday.

The reason: Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and universities would potentially lose federal funds.

Regents’ legal counsel Nathan Lukkes said the universities would be in violation of the drug-free schools act and the drug-free workplace act.

“From a black and while letter of the law standpoint, it is what it is,” he said.

Students can get medical-marijuana cards but they can’t possess or use marijuana on regents’ property, according to Lukkes, and they could use it off-campus but couldn’t be disruptive on university grounds.

The state laws legalizing medical marijuana in South Dakota take effect July 1. The state Department of Health plans to have rules in place by October 29 and intends to start issuing patient and caregiver cards in November.

Regents president John Bastian of Belle Fourche said he appreciated the distinction that federal law affects campuses differently than other parts of society.

“We don’t have that luxury on university campuses, if it is a luxury,” Bastian said.

Regent Tony Venhuizen of Sioux Falls noted that 70% of South Dakota voters supported IM 26 last November.

Venhuizen, who recently resigned as the governor’s chief of staff, said it created “more miserable meetings” than any other issue he had experienced.

“I think we are wise to not go out on a limb and rush into this as a system,” Venhuizen said. “I just think this clearly is the way to go.”

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