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South Dakota Weed Laws


Understanding South Dakota’s marijuana laws can help you avoid a potentially serious criminal charge. While marijuana is legal in the state for medicinal use, it is illegal for recreational use. 

According to Initiated Measure 26, passed on November 3, 2020, South Dakota residents who are 18 or older and have a debilitating medication condition can possess and use up to three ounces of cannabis. The conditions included as “debilitating medical conditions” include the following:

  • PTSD
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • ALS
  • Glaucoma
  • Epilepsy
  • Severe pain

South Dakota was one of the first states to legalize the adult and medicinal use of marijuana simultaneously. The state’s first medical dispensary opened on July 27, 2022. 

With the cannabis industry in South Dakota starting to grow, some new regulations and rules must be known and followed. Here you can learn about the state’s weed laws and what is considered legal and illegal. 

Initiated Measure 26 Explained

According to Initiated Measure 26, the following rules and regulations apply to the possession and use of marijuana. Medical marijuana cardholders (in and out of state individuals), practitioners, and attorneys will not be arrested, prosecuted, or penalized for specific conduct related to marijuana. It is important to note that this law only protects medical patients. Recreational use of the substance is illegal in South Dakota. 

Qualifying Conditions for a Medical Marijuana Card in South Dakota

The following conditions would qualify you for a medical marijuana cannabis card in South Dakota:

  • Debilitating or chronic medical condition or disease or treatment for this that causes any of the following issues:
    • Severe muscle spasms like those associated with M.S. (multiple sclerosis)
    • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
    • Seizures
    • Severe nausea
    • Debilitating pain

To get a medical marijuana card in the state, you must meet specific requirements and go through the established process. 

Laws Related to the Possession and Use of Marijuana for Cardholders 

A qualifying patient is legally permitted to have up to three ounces of cannabis flower in their possession. 

Additionally, if a physician recommends it, a patient can grow up to three plants (or a different amount). To receive approval to cultivate marijuana plants, you must acquire a certification from your doctor that states this. You must also apply at the Department of Health, which established rules related to this activity. 

There is no medical marijuana reciprocity in South Dakota, which means the state recognizes medical marijuana cards from other states. Also, if you have a medical marijuana card from South Dakota, it can be accepted in some other states, including Washington D.C., Arizona, U.S. Virgin Islands, Maine, Utah, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, Puerto Rico, Montana, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. 

While this is true, it does not mean you can purchase cannabis at medical marijuana dispensaries, just that the laws protect you on some level. If you plan to purchase marijuana while out of state, it is wise to contact the dispensary to see if they will serve you. 

It is required that your qualifying condition matches from one state to another. If the condition is accepted in your state but not the one you are visiting, your recommendation will not be accepted (in most cases). You must also know the marijuana usage laws for the state you are in, not the state that issued your card. 

Common Questions about Medical Marijuana Use in South Dakota

Does the law in South Dakota protect medical cannabis cardholders at their jobs?

No specific laws require that employers accommodate medical uses of cannabis in South Dakota. 

Where can you safely purchase cannabis in the state?

In every state that has a medical marijuana program, the only method for purchasing medicinal cannabis is through a legally licensed pharmacy, dispensary, or another location that is legally designated to purchase the substance. Also, only those with a license can sell cannabis. 

Where can you safely consume marijuana in South Dakota?

Every state with medical marijuana programs has restrictions regarding where people can use cannabis legally. It is illegal to use cannabis close to schools, parks, nurseries, and other locations where children would be. It is also unlawful to use cannabis in healthcare buildings, hospitals, or on federal land or buildings. 

The safest place for you to use medical cannabis is at home. This is wise and common sense. Make sure that cannabis is not used around other people. Staying discreet is best. 

What is required to sell marijuana legally in South Dakota?

Sellers of medical marijuana must obtain a medical dispensary license. This can be done with the Medical Cannabis Establishment Application form. Those interested in acquiring this license must meet the following requirements:

With this license, you can possess, store, transfer, supply, sell, deliver, and dispense cannabis and related items at your location. 

What are the potential penalties for marijuana-related crimes in South Dakota?

While medicinal marijuana is legal for those with a card in South Dakota, there are still penalties for exceeding the allowed amount. One ounce of cannabis does not come with a penalty. The other potential penalties include the following:

  • One to two ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor and carries penalties of one year in jail and fines up to $2,000. 
  • Two ounces to half of a pound is a felony and carries penalties of one year in jail and fines up to $4,000. 
  • Half of a pound to one pound is a felony and carries penalties of five years in jail and fines up to $10,000. 
  • One pound to 10 pounds is a felony and carries penalties of 10 years in jail and fines of up to $20,000. 
  • Over 10 pounds is a felony and carries penalties of 15 years in jail and fines of up to $30,000. 

Understanding Your Rights and Options for Marijuana Use and Possession in South Dakota 

While the medical use of marijuana is legal in South Dakota, if you do not have a medical marijuana card or are caught with more than the allowed amount, you can face criminal charges. If you are in this situation, contact our criminal defense lawyer at Alvine Law Firm for assistance. 

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