SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Recreational marijuana is illegal in the state of South Dakota. Full stop.
According to Neil Fulton, Dean of the University of South Dakota Knutson School of Law, until the South Dakota Supreme Court issues a decision, the February ruling issued by State Circuit Judge Christina Klinger which declared the amendment invalid still stands.
Fulton says that even if the Supreme Court were to overturn Judge Klinger’s ruling, South Dakotan’s would not be able to immediately begin using recreational marijuana. “It’s the difference between the theoretical legality and the practical implementation of legal marijuana,” says Fulton, discussing the further legal and regulatory challenges that would need to be navigated. “The first will be in place immediately — the practical legality and availability will take some time.”
But all of this is discussion is speculative, depending on the decision of the South Dakota Supreme Court.
What is more concrete is the future of medical marijuana. The implementation of Initiated Measure 26 is set to begin July 1. Similar to recreational marijuana however, Fulton says its practical availability will begin much later than when it technically becomes legal.
This is because the state has until October 29, 2021 to enact a regulatory framework, with issuance of the first medical cards by November 18. “We are talking about getting into late  and probably into  before the practical steps for implementation are in place,” says Fulton.
Between now and then Fulton says the state has a number of variables to sort out such as qualifying conditions of use of medical marijuana and verification of those conditions.
According to the state’s medical cannabis website, qualifying conditions that allow someone to use medical marijuana must be a “debilitating medical condition.” This is defined as follows:
“A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.”
According to Fulton, this system will resemble our current pharmacy process, but it won’t operate within it.
“It’s going to be an entirely parallel process,” he says. “You’ll have a certificate, not a prescription; you’ll go to a dispensary, not a pharmacy. It looks the same, but it is different.”
While guidelines are in place, Fulton expects that the metrics of who is able to be certified will change as the program grows. “Inevitably we’re going to learn and adjust based on some practical experience,” he says.
“One thing I would just say for folk to be very clear on is that no form of marijuana is legally available immediately on July 1st. There are steps for implementation of [Initiated Measure 26], and Amendment A remains struck down so don’t go out and possess marijuana on July 1st — It presents a real problem.”