Cannabis is illegal for all purposes in South Dakota. Testing positive for marijuana is a felony crime. Possession of a small amount is a crimal misdemeanor.
One exception is USDA-approval of hemp cultivation on tribal reservations.
There are eight federally-recognized tribes in South Dakota. The DOJ marijuana policy on tribal reservations applies to these South Dakota tribes. Each is federally recognized as sovereign by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Interior Department.
For a complete list of South Dakota tribes and their locations, see our page about South Dakota Tribes.
South Dakota tribes recognize the challenges and business opportunities of the cannabis industry, but have not announced their interests or business plans.
Sept 29, 2015
The Santee Sioux tribe announced plans for the first U.S. recreational marijuana resort. It will be built on their reservation next to their Royal River Casino and Hotel.
The tribe will grow marijuana and sell it in a smoking lounge featuring a nightclub, arcade games, bar and food venue. Later plans include slotmachines and an outdoor music center.
"We want it to be an adult playground," said tribal President Anthony Reider. "There's nowhere else in American that has something like this."
Nov 7, 2015
The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe announced it has temporarily suspended plans for a marijuana resort and is seeking legal clarification from the federal government. The tribe has also stopped growing marijuana and has destroyed its entire crop.
There has been no further public announcements.
March 16, 2020
Members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe voted this week to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in hopes of developing new economic opportunities.
82% approved medical marijuana
74% approved recreational marijuana
The Tribal Council will meet March 30 to proceed with laws to legalize and regulate marijuana on the reservation. Pine Ridge Reservation will be the only one in the country with legalized recreational marijuana in a state where it is illegal.
The initial plan is to issue licenses to tribal members to grow and sell marijuana products. The licensees would pay taxes to the tribe.
South Dakota will vote in November on whether to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. If approved, it will boost the tribe's marijuana market. If it fails, the tribe will set up a pot resort at the Prairie Wind Casino & Hotel.
January 22, 2020
Courtesy of ABC Dakota News Now
The federal government legalized industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The new law allows states and tribes to submit plans for local regulation of hemp cultivation.
The USDA approved the plan submitted by the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe and granted the tribe governance over growing industrial hemp on 1,000 acres of reservation land.
February 7, 2019
Hemp is illegal under South Dakota law even though the federal government legalized it in the latest U.S. Farm Bill passed in December.
A South Dakota House committee has taken an important step towards changing the state's law. House Bill 1191 would legalize the growth, production and processing of hemp in South Dakota. The bill was voted on today by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee and was passed with a unanimous vote of 13-0.
The bill is supported by the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, local farmers and others.
Under the bill the state would issue licenses to farmers wanting to grow hemp. The state would charge an application of $350 and conduct a federal background check. Any applicant with a felony drug offense during the past ten years would be not be licensed.
Hemp must contain less than 0.3 percent THC. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis
September 15, 2018
There is a possibility that in the future farms could begin growing hemp across the nation.
Last year a company from Colorado made a deal with one Native American farmer from the Pine Ridge Reservation to buy his hemp crop. He also sold them his crop from this year.
In 2002 the man tried to grow hemp on the reservation. However, it was seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration. He made another attempt in 2002. That attempt also failed when he was court ordered prohibited from farming hemp without permission from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Both marijuana and hemp are part of the cannabis plant family. One of the main differences between hemp and marijuana is in the consumption. Hemp does not contain high levels of THC. The component that gives the user a high sensation.
Hemp also uses less water than other crops. For some Native American tribes that are farming hemp, this can work well since it can grow in semi-arid land found on many reservations.
In 1970 the federal government passed a law that prevented all growing of hemp. Then many decades later, in 2014, a bill was introduced to help reintroduce the hemp industry. The farm bill was passed that year by congress. It gave permission to farm hemp as long as there was a partnership with a university on the research of the plant and products that could be made from it.
The bill helped to move the hemp industry forward. Regulations began to lessen. However, not in South Dakota where the Pine Ridge reservation is located. Currently there are 10 states that still have bans on growing hemp.
Products made from hemp vary. Some of the products are fabrics, biofuel, food, lotion, and paper. One product that has been getting a lot of news coverage is cannabidiol oil. The supplement can be taken either in pill form or by medicine dropper. The oil has been scientifically researched and can help people that suffer from different medical conditions. This includes sleep, focus, anxiety, and inflammation. In 2017 a law was approved in South Dakota that legalized CBD in Food and Drug Administration approved uses. Epidiolex was the first drug approved by the FDA that uses the oil and can help ease the symptoms of seizures and some forms of severe epilepsy.
There is still some legal confusion over the growing of hemp. The DEA still classifies hemp as an illegal substance. It is against the federal law to grow, cultivate, sell, or consume any type of cannabis.
There is a new farm bill that will soon go under review by congress to determine the further legalization of hemp farming.
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