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City Council votes to allow 15 medical marijuana dispensaries in Rapid City

medical pot

Marijuana dispensaries in Rapid City will have up to one year to get their businesses started -- instead of 120 days -- after receiving a license following a Rapid City Council vote on Monday night.

The council voted 7-1 on a second motion to change the time period for a dispensary to become operational and to strike out language regarding license transfers. Council member Bill Evans was the sole dissenting vote.

The ordinance will have its second reading at the Sept. 20 meeting.

The first motion was to make changes regarding the business start time and the license change, along with increasing the number of dispensaries from 15 to about 37, or one per 2,500 people in Rapid City. Mayor Steve Allender broke the 4-4 vote with a no.

“OK, personally, I also can’t take the large leap after all of the time and effort put into arriving at 15 for a start, and now we’ve more than doubled that,” Allender said. “The chair tonight on this issue has to vote no.”

The ordinance will still limit the number of marijuana dispensaries in the city to one per 5,000 in the city’s population, or about 15. Licenses for dispensaries, testing, manufacturing and cultivation facilities would cost $5,000, which is broken down to $1,500 for the nonrefundable application fee and $3,500 for the license itself.

Licenses would need to be renewed each year with a $5,000 renewal fee.

Kittrick Jeffries, director of compliance with Dakota Cannabis Consulting, spoke during public comment in favor of letting the market decide how many dispensaries were necessary.

Police Chief Don Hedrick said the police department worked with the City Attorney’s Office on the ordinance and will perform background checks for businesses applying for a license.

Council member Bill Evans said he would like to see the city have its own dispensaries or for the city to purchase the old Alberston’s, have a “superstore” and “have all the money.”

During the meeting, the council also approved 7-1 designating six video lottery licenses. Finance Director Pauline Sumption said her office received 43 applications. 

To randomly select the applicants, Sumption used a online system that selected six numbers. Four of the licenses will go to Wyngard Pot-o-Gold Casinos, one will go to MG Oil and one to Shaun Clauson.

Evans said the lottery drawing is the reason he’s opposed to limiting the number of dispensary licenses.

“This is what you get where the same people keep getting it all the time,” he said. “That’s the reason why I’d like to have one city marijuana dispensary.”

He voted no on the designation for the licenses.

The council also discussed whether or not to give city employees a COVID-19 bonus. Darla Drew, Ritchie Nordstrom and Pat Jones spoke in favor of the bonuses.

“As I think about our city employees, it’s hard for me to think of someone that wasn’t essential while this was going on,” Jones said.

The city previously awarded $1,000 to public safety employees with funding coming from the general fund. The council voted 6-2 to approve the bonuses in early August.

The council also approved the second reading of an ordinance prohibiting smoking marijuana in public, and the first reading of the fiscal year 2022 appropriation ordinance, which contains the budget for 2022.

The Rapid City Planning Commission will hear the ordinance containing the zoning regulations for medical cannabis establishments during its 7 a.m. Thursday meeting.

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at siandhara.bonnet@rapidcityjournal.com

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