County takes the next step with medical cannabis | Community
With little fanfare, the Yankton County Commission made history Tuesday night when it approved its first six medical marijuana licenses, which South Dakota voters approved in the November 2020 general election.
However, county officials have raised key questions that lie ahead for licensees and those who use medical cannabis.
By a 4-0 vote, Commissioners Joe Healy, Wanda Howey-Fox, Don Kettering and Dan Klimisch approved the nominations. The fifth commissioner, Cheri Loest, joined the meeting later and was not present for presentations and votes.
Marijuana has already become a major issue for the 2022 South Dakota legislature, according to Klimisch.
âI sit on the board of directors (as treasurer) of the Association of County Commissioners of South Dakota,â he said. âThere are no less than 50 bills dealing with marijuana. “
The proposed legislation ranges from changes in medical cannabis to the full use of recreational marijuana, Klimisch said.
Yankton County Assistant District Attorney Deb Lillie noted that marijuana must be grown in South Dakota and cannot be imported from elsewhere.
Howey-Fox, an attorney, noted that state law raises an unanswered question for those who intend to expand on it. “Where will you get your seeds?” She asked a claimant, pointing out that it is illegal to bring in seeds from out of state to start an operation.
“It’s a gray area,” she noted.
The claimant, Troy Johnson, agreed. “It is a gray area, and we will have to resolve it,” he said.
In a review of the cannabis ordinance, Yankton County authorizes 10 licenses in each category – dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing – with November 10 as the effective date of the zoning ordinance for cannabis operations .
The county’s applications must now go to the state for final approval, Lillie said. âIt’s up to them to decide when they go to the state. â¦ But anyone approved tonight must apply to the state within 90 days of Nov. 4, so they have until Feb. 4, âshe said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the following nominations were approved:
â¢ a dispensary license to Mike Barkl of A 2 Z, LLC;
â¢ dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing facility licenses to Troy Johnson, Amy Johnson, Amanda Johnson, Estelle Johnson and Michael Feimer for Happy Flower Healing, Inc .;
â¢ a dispensary license to Kristen Koak and Lauren Soukup for Root 52; and
â¢ a cultivation facility application for Nathan Eastman of RiverBend Edge, LLC.
Barkl will be setting up his dispensary near the intersection of Highway 81-46 in northern Yankton County, about 15 miles north of Yankton.
Barkl noted that its proposed site offers a convenient location with easy access for customers. In addition, he noted a number of other advantages: distance from school districts and their facilities, no place for teenagers to hang out, and a nearby Department of Transportation (DOT) station that provides added security.
âIt will be a big business,â Barkl said. “It won’t waste lives and it will be therapeutic.”
Barkl paid his deposit and completed the papers. Healy noted that the plaintiff had listed hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., while county ordinance lists allowed hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Barkl said he would comply with the order and adjust his hours accordingly. âI will follow the law,â he said.
During a public comment period, Dale Hebda spoke out in favor of Barkl’s candidacy.
âThe location is at the far end of Yankton County,â Hebda said. “We don’t know what (the neighbor to the north) Hutchinson County will do, but there could be additional revenue from a neighboring county.”
Hebda also vouched for the character of Barkl.
âI know Mike is driven and hardworking, and it’s a positive place for a dispensary,â he said.
Reviewing the Yankton County order, Healy said Barkl meets all of the requirements of the application. As a follow-up question, Lillie asked Barkl if he had an active liquor license.
“I did it two years ago, for a year, but it is no longer relevant,” he replied.
The proposed dispensary will be located in a commercial district, Healy said, with the plan of operation including such things as employee expectations and training, as well as safety procedures.
âThe state will respond to requests more than we (as commissioners),â Healy said. âLocation is our main concern.
The Happy Flower Healing app lists Estelle Johnson as CEO, Troy Johnson as General Manager, Amy Johnson as Farm Manager, Amanda Johnson as Sales Manager and Feimer as a board member of administration and owner.
During Tuesday’s presentation, Amy Johnson, Amanda Johnson and Feimer appeared before the committee while Troy Johnson joined the meeting through Zoom.
Healy verified whether the proposed operations would be located in a municipality, and he discovered that they would be located outside the city and beyond extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).
The commissioners approved each of the three license applications.
For Root 52, Kozak and Soukup said they have a building permit, but their structure has yet to be built. They would have to wait until the end of winter, anticipating their foundations would be laid in March, and it would take another six to eight weeks to complete preparations for a start date in May or June.
The site is zoned for commercial lakefront, and while there are no residences nearby, the business is said to be located near a residential area, county officials said.
The final claim, RiverBend Edge, would operate a grow facility at 3300 West Eighth Street in a lakeside shopping district. Eastman described the location and layout of the facility, with the owner giving his approval for the cannabis site.
The proposed grow site has shared construction space but no shared office space and has shared parking but only its own outdoor access, Eastman said.
Lillie noted that commissioners approved a large number of licenses at the same time on Tuesday evening. As the process progresses, county officials will need to remain aware not only of the limits in numbers, but also of sites and that operations are getting too close to each other or in areas that would violate the ordinance. County.
âYou’ll have to start keeping track,â she said.
For example, Yankton County commissioners approved two operations along Highway 52, Lillie said. Rapid City maintains a map with an overlay of current and proposed locations, she added.
âAs we go along, the county has approved a batch of them that must be sent to the state within 90 days,â she said. âFrom now on, it becomes an ongoing process, on a first come, first served basis. You continue to accept applications and hear them until you reach 10 (limit in one category).
At this point, Yankton County Assistant Auditor Valli Stockland has marked the requests with dates and numbers. Those arriving after the limit is reached could still be considered if previously approved applicants were to withdraw or close.
Klimisch said he expected similar questions and concerns across South Dakota with the introduction of medical cannabis.
âIt’s a new process for everyone,â he said.
Other commercial elements included:
â¢ Highway Superintendent Mike Sedlacek receives permission to submit a request to replace the Stone Church Bridge;
â¢ Veterans Duty Officer Cody Mangold receives approval to solicit funds to replace the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) van; and
â¢ With Commissioners hearing the County IMEG Bridge Inspection Report, Kettering responding that the report did not provide an accurate picture of the deterioration of the four major James River bridges in Yankton County.
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