Recreational marijuana is still held up in our laggardly Supreme Court, but medical marijuana is now legal in South Dakota. Acknowledging the law and the will of 69.92% of the voters, the South Dakota Highway Patrol is adopting new standards for busting pot possessors:
The South Dakota Highway Patrol will issue guidance to its personnel consistent with the Framework, effective July 1. The Framework covers questions for the most common situations South Dakota residents hoping to benefit from access to medical cannabis are likely to face after IM 26 goes into effect:
- “What if I don’t have a medical cannabis card?” ANSWER: Highway Patrol personnel will not, at the scene of a stop or interaction, arrest a South Dakota resident who is unable to present an unexpired medical cannabis card, as long each of the following apply:
- The individual possesses no more than three ounces of natural and unaltered marijuana, as defined by SDCL 22-42-1;
- The individual claims at the time of the interaction that the medical cannabis is to treat or alleviate a debilitating medical condition as defined by the Department of Health;
- The individual produces printed or electronic documentation relative to the debilitating medical condition from a licensed medical doctor.
- “What if I have a nonresident card?” ANSWER: Highway Patrol personnel will not arrest nonresident cardholders for possession of cannabis, nor will they seize the cannabis or any associated paraphernalia, if the following applies:
- The cardholder presents an unexpired medical cannabis card issued by another state; and
- He or she possesses no more than three ounces of natural and unaltered cannabis, as defined by SDCL 22-42-1;
- “What if I have a tribal card?” ANSWER: The nonresident card provision applies in this instance, so long as the cardholder is an enrolled tribal member and presents an unexpired medical cannabis card issued by the resident’s tribe [Office of the Governor, press release, 2021.06.30].
SDPB’s Lee Strubinger summarizes the new HP framework as, “The patrol says people can possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana if they can prove it’s for medical reasons.” But Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo says the HP had better think twice about that burden of proof:
His office is joining at least two other counties that won’t default to charging people will possession.
“Under three ounces—we’re going to have very little to do with that,” Vargo says. “On the other hand, if an officer believed that that was clearly not medicinal for whatever reason—I don’t know how they would prove that, but if they did they might still bring us that case and we would look at it” [Lee Strubinger, “State Highway Patrol Adjusts Marijuana Approach,” SDPB, 2021.07.01].
Of course, the average citizen’s concerns about interactions with law enforcement are moot if we all just keep it between the ditches and make sure our blinkers work. And hey, as with any medication, if your medical cannabis makes you loopy, please, don’t get behind the wheel. Stay home, chill out, and send your roomie to Kum-and-Go for munchies.