SD MITCHELL — Mitchell’s medical marijuana dispensaries that have yet to open were gifted with a waiver for the annual $5,000 renewal fee.
Considering none of the three approved Mitchell dispensaries have opened their doors and made a sale, City Attorney Justin Johnson said the city was given guidance to refrain from requiring each license holder to pay the annual renewal fee. The Mitchell City Council agreed to waive the renewal fee during the Nov. 21 meeting, which bought more time for the dispensaries that are inching closer to opening on the south side of Mitchell.
Under the city’s regulations, a cannabis dispensary must make a sale within six months of being issued a license for it to remain active. But that rule was also waived by the city, as Mitchell’s dispensaries are being slowed by the state’s separate set of regulations.
Although Mitchell has yet to see a medical marijuana dispensary open since approving licenses about a year ago, several cannabis companies are inching closer to being in business. The company, BesaMe Wellness, that’s transforming the former Runnings building, located at 1400 S. Burr St., into a dispensary put itself in position to begin growing and manufacturing their own marijuana inside the building.
“This would allow them to go from growing the actual plant to becoming the finished product,” Johnson said during the recent council meeting.
The council’s approval of the manufacturing license makes BesaMe Wellness the first Mitchell marijuana business to hold the licenses needed to grow the plant, package it on site and sell it on the shelves.
Considering the sizable amount of water it takes to grow cannabis indoors, does Mitchell have enough water capacity to meet the demand? While that’s yet to be determined, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson and Public Works Director Joe Schroeder have been aggressively pursuing ways to increase Mitchell’s water capacity.
Providing water for medical marijuana production didn’t drive city leaders to search for a secondary water source, rather it’s a move Everson said will position Mitchell to grow and welcome more commerce.
The city has yet to secure a secondary water source that could increase Mitchell’s water capacity, but Everson said there have been ongoing discussions with B-Y Water District and other surrounding water suppliers.
After voters rejected legalizing recreational marijuana in South Dakota during the early November election, it has Mitchell City Councilman Jeff Smith curious on whether the companies with medical cannabis licenses will change any of their plans. With recreational cannabis being defeated, it limits the clientele at the dispensaries to medical card holders.
As of Nov. 21, there were just over 5,100 medical marijuana cards approved by the state, according to the South Dakota Department of Health.
The remaining license holders that are positioned to open dispensaries in Mitchell are Native Nations Cannabis, Genesis Farms and Jordan Raftis. Raftis and Native Nations’ dispensaries are planned for the south side of Mitchell, leaving Genesis Farms’ downtown location at the former OverTime Steakhouse as the lone dispensary not in the south part of the city.
All but one of Mitchell’s dispensary licenses has a building location approved by the city. Donald Livesay Jr. has a dispensary license but no building. For Livesay Jr., a Mitchell businessman who was previously denied a variance to open a dispensary at a building on Juniper Avenue, the clock is ticking to come forward with a new location.
As part of the conditions the council attached to his variance denial, Livesay Jr. was allowed to search for a new location until the start of 2023. Johnson said he’s yet to submit an application for a new dispensary location, which means he has about a month left to do so.
“He could still have a couple meetings to try and do so, but at this point we haven’t heard anything,” he said of Livesay Jr.
If Livesay Jr. doesn’t find a new location before January, it could free up one of Mitchell’s five dispensary licenses, pending the council’s action. The city has a cap of five cannabis dispensaries.