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Mitchell City Council to consider approving changes to city's medical marijuana ordinances

City Attorney Justin Johnson said making the proposed changes on Monday would pave the way for the city to begin accepting license applications by Oct. 4, if state lawmakers finalize the state's regulations and laws.

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Medical marijuana

The Mitchell City Council will consider making changes to the city’s medical marijuana ordinances on Monday during a special meeting at City Hall to make way for the industry to operate in October.

After state lawmakers released more medical marijuana regulations for cities to follow in early September, the council will tweak its own medical cannabis program during the 6 p.m. meeting on Monday to align with the new state rules, which includes allowing cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities to share a physical space with dispensaries and adding language that gives the city the authority to prohibit any medical marijuana businesses from operating in Mitchell, if state lawmakers officially adopt the rules on Oct. 4.

In addition, the council will consider establishing the application and renewal fees for anyone seeking to open and operate a medical marijuana establishment. The application fee for the four license types — dispensaries, cultivation facilities, manufacturing establishments and testing facilities — is proposed to be set at $5,000. The annual renewal fee is also proposed to be set at $5,000.

The Mitchell City Council approved an ordinance in early June that spells out the medical marijuana regulations for the industry to operate in Mitchell, but it heavily hinges on the state’s rules that city governments are expected to follow.

On Sept. 13, the Legislature’s Interim Rules Review Committee approved 143 of the state Department of Health’s recommended measures. City Attorney Justin Johnson said making the proposed changes on Monday would pave the way for the city to begin accepting license applications by Oct. 4.

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"As soon as the state's rules are published and adopted and put into place on Oct. 4 like the state is anticipating, we would be accepting applications at that time. If we had to wait through the entire process, we would be having people apply when our new rules have technically not gone into effect yet," Johnson said during the first reading of the ordinance during the Sept. 20 council meeting.

Some of the other notable new measures from the state that the council will consider including in its own medical marijuana ordinance are requiring applicants seeking a license to produce and sell medical cannabis to apply with the city first and adding language that says the city “shall not give any preference” for those who hold medical marijuana business licenses, if recreational marijuana becomes legal. While South Dakota voters approved both medical and recreational cannabis in November 2020, a judge ruled the recreational marijuana amendment was “unconstitutional.” The fate of recreational marijuana legalization in South Dakota will be decided by the state’s Supreme Court in the near future.

With the state’s new proposed rule that gives each city government the authority to prohibit any medical cannabis establishments from operating, the City Council would be the governing body that has that power.

“If we did exercise that authority at that time, the existing licenses would cease to exist,” Johnson said.

However, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said that’s “not the route the city is going,” considering Mitchell’s medical marijuana regulations are less restrictive than many similar-sized cities. Two-thirds of voters in Davison County were in favor of the medical marijuana measure.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICSBOB EVERSONSOUTH DAKOTA
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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