‘There’s a lot of gray area’: How will authorities enforce medical marijuana in South Dakota?

South Dakota Marijuana

UPDATED 7:00 p.m.: Following the release of this story the South Dakota Highway Patrol released a framework for the implementation of IM 26. You can find the framework and a statement from Gov. Noem here.


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Medical marijuana is legal in South Dakota on July 1. Up until Wednesday evening, there was no clear answer on how it would be enforced.

Minnehaha County has come up with its own guidance, but it might not be the same as other counties.

The state released a preliminary list of conditions that will qualify for medical marijuana. So far, the list includes seizures, cancer and MS. The state health department is expected to add conditions as people apply for medical marijuana cards.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol has also come up with a plan on how to enforce the new law and Governor Noem is suggesting other agencies follow its lead.

Even with the last minute guidance, the way it is enforced could still vary, depending on where you live.

The state is planning to implement a program at the end of October, but there is still a lot of grey area on who can use or possess medical marijuana starting July 1.

A marijuana advocacy group wants clarification on how Initiated Measure 26 will be enforced.

“There’s been a lack of clarity on this issue of patient protections and we feel it’s very important that everyone is on the same page, because whether or not the government has the authority to arrest a person is really the most basic form of government transparency there is,” director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws Matthew Schweich said.

Minnehaha County States Attorney Daniel Hagger issued guidance for Sioux Falls Police, but there are still some questions.

“I don’t there’s necessarily one blanket statement that we can say that is going to cover every situation. A lot of these are going to be a case by case basis and so we’ll work through that,” officer Sam Clemens said.

Clemens says you are not likely to be arrested for small amounts of medical marijuana.

“The law specifically states that if it’s for medical marijuana, that under three ounces is not enforceable, but if it’s for recreational, then obviously there would be laws that would be broken,” he said.

Hagger encourages anyone even thinking about using medical marijuana to read the law.

“Make sure they have an understanding of it, but also know, if you are a juvenile possessing recreational marijuana, if you’re driving under the influence, if you’re unlawfully distributing, it’s my intention to continue to prosecute those cases,” he said.

“There’s a lot of grey area, and as we move forward, we’re going to be learning more. We’ll make sure to communicate that with all the officers,” Clemens said

Communication that medical marijuana advocates also want shared with the public.

“It’s very much in the public interest for there to be clarity on this issue. The last thing anyone wants is confusion and the law to be inconsistently applied in different parts of the state,” Schweich said.

Moody County State’s Attorney Paul Lewis also told KELOLAND News there has not been any guidance from the state on what to do. Therefore, law enforcement could respond differently in every county.

Lewis said the safest thing to do is wait until the department of health releases more direction in late October.

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