By Cathy Nelson
HOT SPRINGS – On August 31, the Fall River County Commission approved the first reading of ordinance 2021-02, which is an ordinance adding Chapter 14, Title 1 to the revised ordinances of Fall River County creating licensing provisions for cannabis establishments. The ordinance ensures that cannabis establishments within the unincorporated areas of the county operate in a manner that complies with state laws and regulations, protects the safety of the public, prevents conflicts and issues arising from ownership and employees, and minimizes risk of unauthorized use or access of cannabis by the general public.
A license is required to own a cannabis dispensary establishment. In the first reading, the county commissioners approved licensing only one establishment in the unincorporated area of the county. In other words, this does not include municipalities because they create their own ordinances regarding cannabis establishments. The county is required to have at least one dispensary. The commissioners set an application fee of $5,000, to be collected yearly. The State of South Dakota also requires a $5,000 annual fee.
If any of the rules are broken, the commissioners set a maximum of 30 days in jail with a $500 fine.
During public comment, Uriah Luallin of Hot Springs stated his objections to the first reading of the ordinance, saying, that having only one cannabis dispensary is a “monopoly.” He also said the commission was “rushing too fast into creating an ordinance.” “Have a committee to come up with an ordinance,” he said. “I think we can do better.” He added, “This isn’t about freedom, this is about fear.”
The second reading of the ordinance is set for Tuesday, Sept. 7. The ordinance is required to be published by September 14, then goes into effect October 4.