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Customers At South Dakota’s Only Medical Dispensary Still Getting Arrested

South Dakota solely has one medical hashish dispensary. To make issues worse, some clients there are nonetheless getting busted for pot.

That’s in accordance with the Argus Chief, which reported final week that “officers with the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe mentioned that greater than 100 individuals who’ve been issued tribal medical marijuana identification playing cards have been arrested because the tribe opened South Dakota’s first-ever hashish retailer final 12 months.”

The tribe opened the dispensary on July 1, 2021, when the brand new legislation formally took impact. No different dispensaries opened on that official begin date, nonetheless, making a grey space between the state and tribe.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and her administration has mentioned that the state wouldn’t acknowledge medical hashish playing cards issued to people who will not be members of the tribe.

In keeping with the Argus Chief, “the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe has issued about 8,000 medical marijuana playing cards to tribal and non-tribal members,” and “though a number of county- and city-level legislation enforcement businesses and state’s attorneys have eased up on arrests and prosecutions for possession of small quantities of marijuana all collectively, others, just like the Flandreau Police Division will not be honoring some tribal-issued medical playing cards.”

“They’re taking the playing cards and handing out fines,” Tony Reider, chairman of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, informed the newspaper. “However most we don’t find out about, as a result of most individuals are simply paying the fines.”

The continued arrests typify what has been a fraught 15 months since South Dakota voters handed a pair of measures within the 2020 election to dramatically reform the state’s marijuana legal guidelines.

Voters there permitted each a constitutional modification to legalize leisure pot, in addition to an initiated measure to permit medicinal hashish.

However solely the medical legislation nonetheless stands, with the South Dakota Supreme Courtroom ruling in November that the leisure modification was unconstitutional, because it violated the state’s “one topic” requirement for constitutional amendments.

Chief Justice Steven Jensen dominated that Modification A featured “provisions embracing not less than three separate topics, every with distinct objects or functions,” noting that the state structure “not solely features a single topic requirement but additionally directs proponents of a constitutional modification to organize an modification in order that the completely different topics could be voted on individually.”

The choice upheld a decrease courtroom’s ruling from earlier within the 12 months, which got here after Noem and a pair of legislation enforcement officers challenged the modification.

After the state Supreme Courtroom’s ruling on the day earlier than Thanksgiving, Noem struck a celebratory observe.

“South Dakota is a spot the place the rule of legislation and our Structure matter, and that’s what as we speak’s resolution is about,” she mentioned in an announcement on the time. “We do issues proper—and the way we do issues issues simply as a lot as what we’re doing. We’re nonetheless ruled by the rule of legislation. This resolution doesn’t have an effect on my Administration’s implementation of the medical hashish program voters permitted in 2020. That program was launched earlier this month, and the primary playing cards have already gone out to eligible South Dakotans.”

The Argus Chief reported that South Dakota taxpayers might be footing the $142,000 in authorized prices related to Noem’s leisure pot problem –– an expense that the governor believes ought to be shouldered by the advocates behind the modification.

For Noem, a possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate, the hashish dispute has represented a uncommon political misstep. A ballot final 12 months discovered that solely 39 p.c of South Dakota voters approve of her dealing with of the leisure pot matter, whereas 17.8 p.c mentioned they considerably disapprove and 33.4 p.c mentioned they strongly disapprove.

These numbers stand in sharp distinction to her total approval score of 61 p.c.

The medical hashish program, in the meantime, has slowly taken form. Enrollment for eligible sufferers started in November, whereas state-recognized dispensaries could open later this 12 months.