New Codes Amend Earlier City Laws Regarding Medical Cannabis | Local News

The Vermillion City Council agreed Monday night to approve the second reading and final approval to two new city ordinances that amend city codes related to medical cannabis establishments in the city.

One of the new ordinances that is now in effect replaces a city law which was adopted last May to define land usage of medical cannabis establishments.

The second city law adopted Monday replaces an ordinance approved earlier this year that defines a stakeholder in such a business.

The law regarding land usage was approved by the city council last May in response to Initiated Measure 26, which was adopted by South Dakota voters in November 2020.

Under Initiated Measure 26, medical marijuana became legal in South Dakota last July. A state task force met last summer to discuss rules and regulations for implementing the program.

Last October, the South Dakota Legislature’s Rules Review Committee voted 6-0 to adopt over 100 rules for medical marijuana in the state. The changes approved Monday night by the city council are due, in part, to the city’s efforts to be prepared for when the new state law would be rolled out.

The city ordinance included a “Definitions” section and city staff recently realized that there were two definitions of “Medical Cannabis Establishment” in the final version that was adopted.

“Essentially what we did is we defined two definitions for medical cannabis establishment and that’s just a broad definition for many of the different purposes that it serves,” said Stone Conley, assistant to the city manager. “So, essentially what we would like to have done here is to again, with the second reading, adopt a definition for medical cannabis dispensary to not have any confusion within the application process and within the licensing process.”

One of the definitions that had already been on the city’s books before Monday’s action mirrors South Dakota’s definition of a medical cannabis dispensary. The state’s definition, which is now in the current city ordinance is: SDCL 34-20G-1 (15). “Medical cannabis dispensary” or “dispensary,” an entity registered with the department pursuant to this chapter that acquires, possesses, stores, delivers, transfers, transports, sells, supplies, or dispenses cannabis, cannabis products, paraphernalia, or related supplies and educational materials to cardholders.”

Last October, the Rules Review Committee approved the Department of Health Revised Rules with a 6-0 vote, ultimately placing in effect the state medical cannabis program’s rules. Alongside the Department of Health’s rules, SDCL 34-20G-1 displays the state adopted definitions regarding Medical Cannabis Establishments.

One definition that was not found in Vermillion’s ordinances is a section that defines a medical cannabis dispensary. As this is one of the four categories of Medical Cannabis Establishments, it is recommended to be defined among the current list of definitions in a section of the ordinance approved Monday.

The new ordinance keeps all of the existing language used by the state to define medical cannabis establishments. A portion of the language has been relabeled as “medical cannabis dispensary.”

The language is also clarified to indicate that a medical cannabis dispensary is one of the four types of medical cannabis establishments. The city council has already reviewed identical language, but with it pertaining to licensing requirements. Ordinance 1449 pertains to the definitions in the zoning requirements.

The second city code that received final approval Monday, known as Ordinance 1451, amends a city law that was adopted last May. The city discovered the change is needed when, last November, the city council reviewed differences between the City’s felony definition and the felony definition in State rules and utilized by other first class cities.

Council members directed city staff to prepare an ordinance for consideration to remove references to stakeholder as an individual needing to complete a background check.

The ordinance given final approval Monday does just that – it removes corporate stakeholder or stakeholder(s) from the applicant and licensee definitions in a section of the new law. Individuals who fit those definitions aren’t required to undergo a background check under city law.

The term shareholder is also proposed to be removed from Section 123.08 Establishment Requirements, Section 123.09 Application for Medical Cannabis Establishment License, and Section 123.14 Approval Process. If the term Corporate Stakeholder or Stakeholder(s) is removed from Section 123.01 definitions, it provides for consistency to remove the term from the other sections.

“When we were developing that ordinance, we found that with the term ‘volunteer,’ there was some inconsistency with what the city had and some other cities had, as well as the state,” City Manager John Prescott said.

He said the new ordinance changes city code to require that volunteers in these establishments be at least 21, that the volunteers be listed among the other employees of a medical cannabis establishment and that volunteers be subject to a background check.

“That’s consistent with what the state rules have,” Prescott said. “In a nutshell, those are what the three changes are with regards to volunteers.”

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