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How to Get Licensed in South Dakota’s Medical Cannabis Market

In November of 2020, South Dakota made history as the first state to legalize both medical and adult-use cannabis in the same year. And while the adult-use part of the equation is currently in legal limbo—more on that in a moment—the state is moving ahead on the medical-use front.

If you’re interested in entering the cannabis industry in the state of South Dakota, it’s high time to dive into the cannabis licensing requirements. In today’s post, we’ll share what we know about the legal status of cannabis in South Dakota. We’ll also introduce a timeline for the South Dakota medical cannabis licensing requirements.

Cannabis Licensing Requirements in South Dakota: The Adult-Use Question

Although South Dakotans voted to approve adult-use cannabis by a 54%-to-46% margin, Governor Kristi Noem has pushed back, instructing a state official to challenge the measure in court on technical grounds. There’s currently no word on when the South Dakota Supreme Court will issue a ruling; stay tuned on that front. Incidentally, Noem also attempted, unsuccessfully, to thwart the state’s medical-cannabis program. As of this writing, the state is slated to launch a patient registry program in November of 2021.

Medical Cannabis Licensing Requirement: What We Know

With the state currently formulating its guidelines, many questions remain as to how South Dakota will manage the cannabis business licensing process. But with the State Legislature tasked with providing a legal framework for retail medical sales by April 1, 2022, the clock is ticking.

At present, SDCL 34-20G establishes the following cannabis business types:

  • Cultivator
  • Manufacturer
  • Dispensary
  • Testing facility

These cannabis businesses are referred to collectively as “establishments.” And while the exact cannabis licensing requirements in South Dakota are still a work in progress, the Department of Health will issue those details on or before October 29, 2021.

If you’re interested in applying for a cannabis license in South Dakota, that means it’s Go Time. Even if the exact licensing requirements are in flux, now’s the time to be formulating the business and operations plans you’ll need to have when it’s time to apply. Let’s drill a little deeper into both:

Business Plan: In most states, having a business plan is required for every type of cannabis license application. Moreover, a well-crafted business plan is a vital roadmap for you and your team. Nailing this document is your best opportunity to demonstrate your organizational and entrepreneurial knowledge, your grasp of the commercial and regulatory playing field, and the ways your business will positively impact the community you serve. And having a compelling and clear-eyed business plan is a major factor in your ability to attract investors, partners, and other key players.

Operations Plan: If your business plan is your strategic overview, your operations plan is your tactical roadmap. It’s where you’ll spell out all the details relating to safety, compliance, and the day-to-day operations of your establishment. Think of it as an “operator’s manual” for running a successful, compliant, and profitable cannabis business.

Cannabis Licensing Requirements in South Dakota: Wrapping Up

If you’re serious about entering the South Dakota cannabis industry, we’d like to help. As a partnership of highly skilled and seasoned cannabis industry consultants and guides, Bridge West is ready to help new and emerging cannabis companies find financial and banking solutions, connect with potential stakeholders and chart a course for success in this exciting new landscape. Feel free to reach out to schedule a consultation at any time.