South Dakota Highway Patrol pushes limits on tribe’s pot IDs

July 1, 2021 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration is guiding law enforcement officers not to honor Native American tribes’ medical marijuana identification cards if they are not issued to tribe members.

The guidance, released by the South Dakota Highway Patrol just hours before the voter-approved medical marijuana law took effect Thursday, sets up a potential conflict between prosecutors and the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, which has set up the state’s first marijuana dispensary and plans to issue medical cannabis ID cards to anyone with a certified medical condition, the Argus Leader reported.

People seeking medical cannabis ID cards in South Dakota currently only have the option to obtain one from a Native American tribe because the state will not begin issuing ID cards until November.


However, the highway patrol’s guidance also states that troopers should not arrest people who have no more than three ounces of pot if they have an ID card from another state or can show a statement from a doctor certifying they have been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition. While the guidance only officially applies to the Highway Patrol, it encouraged other law enforcement officers to follow it to “promote consistency” in enforcing the state’s new laws on medical marijuana.

But the attorney general for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Seth Pearman, said it is ready to challenge the Highway Patrol’s stance in court if someone is arrested after presenting a tribe-issued cannabis card. He said the tribe’s ID cards are valid under state law because they are certified by a medical recommendation or a medical ID from another state.

“That is a fight we will back,” he said.

However, some local law enforcement agencies are easing up on enforcing low-level marijuana laws, regardless of medical status. Law enforcement agencies in the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls, told the Argus Leader they will no longer prosecute marijuana possession charges for three ounces or less starting on Thursday.