South Dakota marijuana laws

Published on September 2, 2020 · Last updated November 8, 2022

Is marijuana legal in South Dakota?

Current federal status


Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.

Marijuana is legal for medical use in South Dakota. South Dakota voters passed a medical marijuana legalization initiative in 2020. The state’s first licensed dispensary opened in July 2022. Cannabis remains illegal for those without a medical card. 

Marijuana legalization in South Dakota

South Dakota voters made history in November 2020 by legalizing medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis in one fell swoop. The recreational cannabis measure (Constitutional Amendment A) passed with 52% of the vote, and the medical measure (Initiative 26) passed with 69% of the vote.

However, Governor Kristi Noem (R) worked with the state Supreme Court to overthrow the adult-use vote on bogus grounds.

South Dakotans voted again to legalize cannabis for recreational use in November, 2022, but the measure did not pass. Cannabis remains legal only for medical use in South Dakota.

South Dakota marijuana possession laws

Medical patients can possess up to three ounces of marijuana, and an unlimited quantity of plants.

South Dakota marijuana penalties

Until 2020, South Dakota had stringent marijuana laws, resulting in 8,997 drug arrests in 2019. Based on previous year data, roughly 40% of all drug arrests in South Dakota were for simple possession of marijuana. That means about 3,600 arrests were made for cannabis possession in 2019.

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South Dakota’s current marijuana penalties are as follows until at least July 1, 2021:

Cannabis flower:

  • Two ounces or less, first offense: $2,000 fine, up to one year in jail
  • More than two ounces: $4,000 fine, 1 year in jail
  • Eight ounces to one pound: $10,000 fine, 5 years in prison
  • One to ten pounds: $20,000 fine, 10 years in prison
  • More than ten pounds: $30,000 fine, 15 years in prison

Concentrates (extracts, aka “hashish”):

Any amount: $20,000 fine, 10 years in prison. Do not mess with concentrates in South Dakota.

Marijuana paraphernalia:

Possession of anything considered drug paraphernalia, including a bong, is a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

South Dakota cannabis conviction expungement

Neither initiative passed in Nov. 2020 contains language around expungement, despite South Dakota’s extreme anti-marijuana laws.

The legislature will be able to enact an expungement process if they choose, which will require advocacy work.

South Dakota medical marijuana laws

Initiated Measure 26 (IM-26) establishes a medical marijuana program for individuals with a physician-certified debilitating medical condition (including minors).

Patients will be allowed to possess a maximum of three ounces of marijuana, plus additional marijuana products.

Medical patients with a state-issued card may grow an unlimited quantity of plants.

It remains unclear when the first adult-use stores will open.

While medical marijuana will technically be available for purchase on July 1, 2021, don’t expect many dispensaries to necessarily be stocked and ready for business on that day.

Under IM-26, medical marijuana dispensaries will be licensed and regulated by the South Dakota Department of Health.

How to get a medical marijuana card in South Dakota

The state’s medical program is required to accept patients no later than July 1, 2021. Patients will be able to obtain a temporary card on that day, and the state Department of Health will have 140 days to issue permanent cards.

Qualifying conditions for a South Dakota medical marijuana card

Initiative 26 allows for residents with a wide range of conditions to apply for a medical card; anyone with a “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment” that produces one or more of the following:

  • cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • severe, debilitating pain
  • severe nausea
  • seizures
  • severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis

South Dakota marijuana growing laws

After July 1, 2021, adults 21 and older may possess up to three plants, with a limit of six plants per household.

Medical patients with a state-issued card may grow an unlimited quantity of plants.

Under CA-A, you can get a $250 fine if marijuana plants are visible to the public.

South Dakota cannabis DUI laws

Like everywhere else, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or other controlled substances in South Dakota. According to NORML, South Dakota law states that “as long as physical evidence of the consumption remains present in the person’s body” that person can be deemed to be driving under the influence of any substance.

Since cannabis can be detected in the body weeks after use, this law puts totally sober drivers who have consumed cannabis days or weeks in the past at risk of extreme consequences.

Common questions about marijuana legalization in South Dakota

Is South Dakota a legal recreational state?

Yes, South Dakota is a recreational weed state. Recreational and medical weed were voted in Nov. 2020, just you will not be able to possess marijuana until July 1, 2021.

Can you get a medical marijuana card in South Dakota?

Yes. Medical marijuana was legalized in Nov. 2020, but you will most likely have to wait until at least July 1, 2021 to purchase medical marijuana.

Can I get fired for using marijuana legally?

Yes. Unless you’re a medical patient with a state-issued med card, nothing in the law prevents employers from firing employees who are suspected of using legal cannabis in private, on their own time.  

Medical patients may have some protection. Initiative 26 states that “a registered qualifying patient who uses cannabis for a medical purpose shall be afforded all the same rights under state and local law…as it pertains to: Any interaction with a person’s employer.”

Keep up with the latest news about legalization in South Dakota

You’ll want to keep current on South Dakota’s fast-changing laws by bookmarking Leafly politics and signing up for our newsletter.

Post last updated Nov. 4, 2020

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