is weed legal in south dakota

Is Weed Legal In South Dakota: Full Guide

Table of Contents

South Dakota is known as the Mount Rushmore State for the famous national monument featuring the faces of four American presidents carved into the Black Hills. Yet, the Sioux Nation has inhabited South Dakota for 3,000 years before the arrival of European settlers and the gold rush. South Dakota is known for the historical Deadwood, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and Badlands National Park. There is much to love for those who enjoy the outdoors, and many tourists visit for world-class rock climbing on expansive walls of granite and limestone.

Is weed legal in South Dakota? Well, yes. It was for a split second. Read on to find out how the governor of South Dakota repealed the outcome of recreational cannabis on the 2020 ballot. 

Is Weed Legal in South Dakota? Straight to the point.

  • Recreational THC: No
  • Medical THC: Yes
  • CBD: Yes
  • Delta-8: Yes

Medical Weed Laws

South Dakotans voted to legalize medical marijuana in November 2020 with 70% of the vote. The ballot measure, known as Initiated Measure No. 26 (IM26), was aimed at decriminalizing medical cannabis.

However, after its approval, IM26 was incorporated into Chapter 34-20G of the South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL), which established rules for the use of medical cannabis in the state. The chapter also led to establishing the South Dakota Medical Cannabis Program, which operates under the supervision of the South Dakota Department of Health (DOH). Following the codification of the law, the program began accepting patients and practitioners.

To qualify for medical marijuana in South Dakota, patients must have one of the following conditions confirmed by their doctor:

  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Severe, debilitating pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms

Although limited, patients may petition the South Dakota DOH to add more conditions, and the state has 180 days to deny or permit. 

Medical marijuana patients can possess up to three ounces of cannabis flower, or an equal amount of weed concentrates, vapes, and edibles every two weeks. Patients may also grow up to three plants at home. For more information on how to obtain a medical marijuana card in South Dakota, see below. 

Recreational Weed Laws

Trends show that many states with medical marijuana programs usually move towards adult-use recreational legalization. However, recreational weed’s regulatory environment tends to be far more complex. Although many states maintain their medical programs to support patients, the same rules do not apply to the general public once recreational marijuana is legalized. Possession limits may vary, as well as the consequences for using marijuana outside of the state-mandated guidelines. See below for more information about the current legal status and recreational legalization efforts.

Is Weed Decriminalized in South Dakota?

Some local governments have opted to decriminalize cannabis possession in small amounts. However, recreational cannabis remains illegal. See below for more information on possession penalties. 

Cannabinoid Variants

THC is the most heavily regulated cannabinoid on the market but is primarily found in marijuana. However, hemp plants produce an array of cannabinoids that come with varying legal boundaries. Here is where South Dakota stands on their use. 

Is CBD legal in South Dakota?

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production in the United States. This legislation opened up vast possibilities for CBD-rich hemp to enter the mainstream market, allowing consumers to purchase CBD in retail establishments and online. CBD is often found in supplements, topicals, edibles, portable vape pens, home goods, and beauty and body care products. 

The Farm Bill legally protects CBD production, but it is not without stipulation. All commercially available CBD products must be derived from hemp and contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. However, some states have elected to regulate CBD independently and may have further restrictions on its use and distribution. CBD is legal in South Dakota.

Is Delta-8 legal in South Dakota?

Delta-8 THC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid known for producing similar effects to Delta-9 THC. However, to obtain larger amounts, Delta-8 is typically produced from hemp-derived CBD with the help of an isomerization manufacturing process. Some states have opted to ban D8 due to its psychoactive effects, but South Dakota have never implemented any of these regulations. For now, it remains legal. 

Is Delta-10 legal in South Dakota? 

Delta-10 THC is produced in a very similar way to Delta-8, and though it behaves similarly, it is even milder. As of now, Delta-10 is legal in South Dakota. 

Are THC-O and other THC variants legal in South Dakota? 

In recent years, alternative hemp-derived cannabinoids have dominated the market as a more accessible way to get high. However, they have existed in a legal gray area until February 2023. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has declared Delta-8-THC-O and Delta-9-THC-O illegal controlled substances. These compounds are not naturally occurring in either hemp or marijuana and are considered synthetic cannabinoids. 

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and its byproducts so long as they contain no more than 0.3% Delta-9-THC by volume. The market for cannabinoids has grown in the states since then as several alternative cannabinoids emerged, including synthetic THC isomers. 

For the time being, this latest update does not affect alternative cannabinoids like THC-JD, THC-P, THCP-O, THC-H, and THC-B because they do exist naturally in trace amounts. Advocates feel that only the end of the federal prohibition on marijuana will successfully regulate synthetic or naturally occurring cannabinoids.

Are HHC and HHC-O legal in South Dakota?

HHC and HHC-O are produced in a lab like Deltas 8 and 10, though it takes a different chemical path to get there. Still, so long as the origins of the product are hemp and contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC, they are legal in South Dakota.

Cultivation Laws

Patients may grow up to three plants for personal use at home. If there are two or more patients residing in one home, six plants is the maximum allotment per household. If a patient believes they need more than three plants, their doctor may petition the state on their behalf for an extended plant count limit. 

Individuals who are interested in obtaining marijuana cultivation licenses in South Dakota can apply for them through the DOH. The application process requires obtaining a medical cannabis establishment registration certificate, which is necessary for all marijuana-related business activities, including the cultivation of cannabis. The registration certificate can be applied for online using the designated registration platform. Learn more about the process here

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card in South Dakota

If you’re looking to get a marijuana card in South Dakota, you will need to make an appointment with a doctor approved to prescribe medical marijuana. Then, you will upload all medical records into a patient portal where the doctor has submitted their recommendations. 

Next, patients register with the DOH by creating an account and completing their application.  Once approved, your medical cannabis card will be mailed to you, and you can purchase medical marijuana from a certified dispensary. Remember that applications cannot be processed until the state receives certification for medical cannabis use from the physician.

The age requirement to apply for oneself is 18, but minors can select a caregiver over 21 to apply on their behalf. The fees range from $20 (low-income) to $75, and cards must be renewed annually. 

Where to Buy Weed in South Dakota

The medical marijuana program passed in 2020, but it took a while to get it up and running. However, in the summer of 2022, the first legal avenue for cannabis sales began. Here’s how to buy weed in South Dakota.


The first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors in South Dakota in July 2022. Currently, there are 69 active retail locations across the state where medical cardholders can access their cannabis products. In addition, Native Nations Cannabis has been in operation since July 2021. This dispensary is located in Flandreau and operates under a sovereign Native American tribe that does not have to abide by the state’s cannabis laws. 


Currently, delivery is not permitted in South Dakota. As their program matures, it may be likely that delivery becomes a viable option.

Direct to Consumer

Direct-to-consumer sales for regulated cannabis products are not available in South Dakota. However, consumers may still purchase legal alternative cannabinoids through online and brick-and-mortar stores. 

Black Market

Despite legalization efforts, the marijuana black market remains active. The illegal purchase of weed from a black market dealer comes with serious risks. Not only is it difficult to determine the potency and purity of the product, but the legal implications can be disastrous. In some cases, a mere slap on the wrist, but in others, buying weed illegally results in jail time or a prison sentence. For those that live in a state with a medical or recreational marijuana program, it’s best to obtain cannabis through legal channels.

Efforts to Legalize Recreational Weed in South Dakota

Recreational marijuana in South Dakota is a tricky subject. In November 2020, voters were presented with two marijuana bills – one for a medical cannabis program and one for legalizing recreational adult use. It was a unique scenario, and yet, while 70% of voters favored medical marijuana, 54% voted for recreational cannabis.

However, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) immediately issued an executive order to the sheriff of Pennington County and the Highway Patrol Superintendent to challenge these measures with a lawsuit.

The South Dakota Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of Noem’s pleas that the passing of these two laws was in direct violation of the “single-subject rule,” which says that only one ballot measure can be addressed at a time. Therefore, medical cannabis was allowed to pass, but recreational cannabis was thrown out. 

Governor Noem had initially opposed the marijuana legalization initiative, citing concerns over public safety and health. In a statement issued in October 2019, the governor warned that legalizing marijuana would increase traffic accidents, drug addiction, and other social ills.

With a governor election coming up, Noem states that she will no longer stand in the way of voters. Should they wish to legalize recreational cannabis (again), it will not be appealed before the Supreme Court. 

General FAQ

Where can you smoke weed in South Dakota?

Medical marijuana patients may safely and legally consume cannabis in the privacy of their homes, or in the residence of a friend or family member if granted permission. 

Can you smoke weed in public in South Dakota? 

No, it is illegal to smoke weed in public in South Dakota, even if you hold a medical marijuana card.

When was medical weed legalized in South Dakota?

Voters legalized medical marijuana in 2020, with initial programs rolling out in 2021. The first dispensary opened on the reservation in Flandreau in 2021, and the first state-licensed dispensary opened in 2022. 

Punishment for Illegal Acts FAQ

What are the penalties for selling, gifting, transporting, or importing weed?

The sale or distribution of marijuana carries different penalties depending on the amount involved. The sale or distribution of less than half an ounce is a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 days to 1-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,000. 

Selling or distributing up to one ounce is a Class 6 felony, carrying a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $4,000. Selling or distributing between 1 ounce and 0.5 pounds is a Class 5 felony, carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000. 

For quantities ranging from 0.5 pounds to 1 pound, the penalty is a Class 4 felony, with a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $20,000. Selling or distributing more than 1 pound is a Class 3 felony, carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $30,000. 

If the sale or distribution is to a minor, the penalties are increased, with the sale or distribution of more than 1 pound to a minor being a Class 2 felony, carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $50,000. 

A first felony conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days imprisonment, while a second or subsequent conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 1-year imprisonment.

What is the penalty for selling to a minor?

Selling weed to a minor is a felony offense, and punishments vary depending on the amount in possession and intent to distribute, as well as prior convictions. Selling within 1000 feet of a school can garner up to 5 years of incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines. 

What is possession with the intent to sell?

Possession with intent to sell is when you have more cannabis than you can reasonably consume. If an individual is found to possess marijuana in certain amounts, they may face criminal charges and fines in South Dakota.
Possession of 2 ounces or less is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 1-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,000. 

Possession of more than 2 ounces up to 0.5 pounds is considered a Class 6 felony, with a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $4,000. 

Possession of 0.5 pounds up to 1 pound is considered a Class 5 felony, with a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000. Possession of 1 pound up to 10 pounds is considered a Class 4 felony, with a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $20,000. 

Possession of more than 10 pounds is considered a Class 3 felony, with a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $30,000. In addition to criminal charges and fines, a civil penalty may be imposed following a conviction, with a maximum penalty of $10,000.

When is possession a crime?

Possession of cannabis is a crime if you are in possession of more than the legal limits or if you are suspected of intent to distribute. 

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