On July 6 the Marijuana Summer Study toured the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe to visit their medicinal marijuana operation. Our group split into three separate groups going through in round robin; cultivation facility, dispensary and laboratory. The group I was in went to the dispensary first.
There was a waiting room where you turned in your paperwork through a window to check authenticity before you go into the dispensary in the next room. The paperwork needed was a letter from your doctor indicating you will benefit from medicinal marijuana for health reasons. Once your paperwork was stamped for approval, you moved into the dispensary.
In the dispensary I was more than surprised at how high tech the marijuana products were displayed. There were four glass-covered counters with every type of medical marijuana. By each one was a price marker. Also, behind these counters was an electronic board such as you’d see at a McDonald’s. Remember when you used to go inside at McDonald’s?
Anyway, the electronic board flashed types of medical marijuana with prices. This included several different types of marijuana cigarettes, or I guess they’re called joints. Each one is designed to do a different type of therapy to your body. Next were buds that you would crush and smoke in a pipe. There were little vials that you put into a device to vape.
Once a customer picked which medicinal products they wanted, there was a cashier who took payment and the customer was on their way. While we were there, customers were lined up to purchase products. This tribe started selling medicinal marijuana on July 1, the date Initiated Measure 26 (IM-26) went into effect.
So, what happens if one of the medical marijuana customers is stopped by law enforcement on their way home?
There have been a few different readings on this. The last one that I heard was that the Highway Patrol wasn’t going to arrest the driver if they possessed three ounces or less. How much is three ounces is not clear to me. Three cigarettes/joints? Three vials? How many buds equal less than three ounces? Once the medicinal marijuana-using patient gets home, he’s legal to use the product in his home.
I asked a couple of questions at this station.
One was, “Do you have to be a tribal member to purchase products?” The answer was “no”. As long as they had a letter from their doctor, they could purchase products. I then asked, “What about people from Minnesota?” as Flandreau is close to the South Dakota/Minnesota border. The answer was that Minnesota has reciprocity, meaning they can purchase there as well. So, I then asked, “What states have reciprocity?” After much discussion, they thought all states did. Now, keep in mind that in most other states medicinal marijuana is already legal, so, not a big deal.
Next my group moved to the laboratory that was temporarily set up, as they were in the process of remodeling a large room into a state-of-the-art laboratory. Here we were briefed on how they developed different brands of medicinal marijuana. They all had names like “The Newly Weds” or “Cotton Candy”, etc. I was amazed at how many different maladies medical marijuana solved.
Next was the cultivation facility. This again was a state-of-the-art greenhouse growing various types of marijuana. The plants were in little 4”x4” by 4” high containers with no soil. It looks like a fiberglass material with a tiny hose that waters plants every 2 hours. The plants were on the huge tables that they said weighed 10,000 pounds each and were easily moved by one person.
My take here was that the guy who plans on growing in his closet or basement has little chance of competing with this large facility. I’d guess it could be equated to the person who makes his own beer or wine. It’s a fun hobby, but no competition to Budweiser or Prairie Berry.
So, where are we? Well, we are developing the rules and have 120 days from July 1 to have them in effect. How we develop those is yet to be determined and yet to be reported.
Tim R. Goodwin, District 30 Representative