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Those with a medical marijuana card can now buy cannabis at Watertown’s first dispensary.
The Dispensary of Watertown opened to the public on Tuesday, offering nine strains of medical marijuana.
Initiated Measure 26 was approved by South Dakota voters in November 2020, which legalized medical marijuana. The law requires cities to allow at least one medical marijuana dispensary.
Watertown has a limit of three dispensaries within the city limits, and the businesses must pay a $25,000 licensing fee. Under state law, the licenses are nontransferable, and anyone can apply for a license so long as they do not have a violent felony on their record.
Dispensary of Watertown is the first, but the city has received two other dispensary applications from Dakota Dispensaries and Lion’s Den Dispensary.
Quality checked from seed to sale
Under state law, medical marijuana is tracked from seed to sale, and dispensaries must purchase their product from South Dakota growers.
“The systems are speaking with one another,” said Joe Williams, a manager at Dispensary of Watertown. “What I mean by that is our dispensaries system is speaking directly to the South Dakota system. They are tracking the seed from where it was grown to where the plant was harvested and manufactured to who transported it and sold it.”
This is done to ensure that if problems such as mites or molds are discovered, the dispensary and the state will know which grower the product came from, ensuring quality medical cannabis.
Bob West, his brother Colby West and Ronda Voss are the owners of Dispensary of Watertown. Bob West is excited about the opportunity to bring medical marijuana to town and said he is taking the task of providing the product to patients seriously.
“A lot of this is just so brand new. We are making sure that we are dotting our I’s and crossing our T’s. We don’t want to be ‘that’ business, that dispensary, which will become an example. We are doing this exactly how the state has allowed,” he said.
Williams said that the state actively tracks medical marijuana, but patient confidentiality is state law. The dispensary does have patients’ medical card number on file, but no other client information is retained.
Dispensary of Watertown currently only offers cannabis flower. Edibles and concentrates are not sold as the dispensary is waiting for the manufacturers and the testing laboratories to make them available.
More than just THC
Each strain of marijuana flower offered at the new business has gone through testing to establish the level of Delta-9 THC offered.
THC — tetrahydrocannabinol — is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. Delta-9 is the type of THC found in marijuana.
Although THC has important medicinal properties, other cannabinoids like CBG and turpentines within the bud help patients with their individual needs and ailments.
The testing laboratories that Dispensary of Watertown uses do not currently offer a detailed breakdown of the cannabinoids within the flower. But management is hopeful that such testing will become available soon.
“When we get the testing done for the cannabinoids, it will help us break the marijuana down into different categories so that it is quicker and easier for the patient to find what they are looking for,” said Williams.
Dispensary of Watertown offers Indica, Sativa and hybrid varieties.
- Indica is beneficial for chronic pain, has high levels of Delta-9 THC and is often taken during the evening hours as it can make the patient drowsy.
- Sativa is a good daytime use option as it energizes and offers pain relief.
- Hybrids are a common choice amongst medical marijuana patients as they blend the beneficial properties of both the Indica and Sativa varieties.
Getting a medical card
The first step to getting a medical marijuana card is meeting with a medical marijuana-approved practitioner.
According to the South Dakota Medical Marijuana Program website, there are currently 154 medical marijuana practitioners in the state and 2,909 patient cards have been issued since the program started.
There is a list of dispensaries on the South Dakota Medical Marijuana Program website, but not participating practitioners.
The website also contains information about obtaining a medical marijuana card. Marijuana Card Clinic of Sioux Falls can also assist. Those interested should call or text 605-836-3104.
“I know people are waiting to get their medical cards, hoping that recreational will pass this fall,” West said. “But it will probably not be until 2024 before we start to see recreational marijuana sold even if it were to pass… But once the people of South Dakota start to see the quality of medication available to them, they will take advantage of it. They can get the medicine they want and don’t have to seek it out of the shadows.”