Lalley: Marijuana legalization is closer than you think

It's a 20-mile drive from Sioux Falls to Minnesota, where recreational pot is headed toward approval. What will South Dakota do?

Medical marijuana 1.jpg
Medical marijuana buds for sale at The Flower Shop, a dispensary in Sioux Falls.
Patrick Lalley / Forum News Service

SIOUX FALLS — There’s weed on the border.

Any day now, Gov. Tim Walz will sign the piece of paper legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Minnesota. It came down to one vote in the state’s Senate, and there are a couple of differences to work out with the version passed by the House, but the industry’s seeds are planted.

It’s possible that it could all still unravel in the musty old halls in St. Paul, but it appears Minnesota will become the 23rd state in the union to allow cannabis for nonmedical purposes.

And, more notably for those of us nestled up to the border, legal pot for sale within a few minutes drive.

But first, the disclaimer. I do not indulge in cannabis use so anything written or implied herein as “me” or “I” should be considered editorial license for clarity purposes.


That said, gone are the days of “smuggling” a few joints or edibles in from Colorado or Arizona to share with friends and family.

Also gone will be the need to figure out how to fit the definitions of the various ailments that qualify for a medical marijuana card in South Dakota.

Hello Beaver Creek!

City hall to Beaver Creek.PNG
Directions from Sioux Falls City Hall to Beaver Creek, Minnesota.

The burg of about 300 people is the first Minnesota town you hit on Interstate 90.

It’s a 25-minute drive from Sioux Falls City Hall.

About 20 miles from the grounds of the Lalley Estate on the southeast side.

I’ve ridden my bike there.

Check out the Sioux Falls Live calendar anytime for events around the area:

There are still plenty of questions to be answered about how it will all work.


Will I need a fake Minnesota ID?

One thing we do know is that in the macro, official sense, South Dakota does not like weed.

The sheriff is agin it.

The mayor is agin it.

And the governor is way, way, way agin it.

Gov. Kristi Noem, middle, and Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, right, look onward as the success of their grocery tax proposal moved further into doubt during a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee on Feb. 21, 2023.
Jason Harward / Forum News Service

Which poses something of a dilemma for Gov. Kristi Noem and the rest of official South Dakota. What are they going to do to stop it? The state already beat down a voter-approved legalization by picking apart the law with a procedural scalpel and handing it up to the state Supreme Court to nullify in 2021.

Then opponents, not to be caught off guard a second time, raised money for a full-frontal attack of another ballot measure in 2022, defeating legalization by more than 5 points.

What now?


Expanded supply of marijuana won't change the policies and practice of Sioux Falls Police Department

Pot will still be illegal. You can still get arrested for possessing and using marijuana if you don’t have a medical-use card.

But judging by how common it has become to see people openly smoking in various spots around the Best Little City in America — or more commonly catching a familiar whiff of the weed — enforcement appears problematic.

How much time, energy and money will law enforcement in South Dakota spend trying to secure the porous eastern border?

Gov. Noem famously sent South Dakota National Guard troops to the southern border — with Mexico, not Nebraska — to help stop the drug smugglers in the summer of 2021.

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Kayla Snedeker, a bud tender at The Flower Shop, a medical cannabis dispensary in Sioux Falls, demonstrates the various forms of marijuana available to customers.
Patrick Lalley / Forum News Service

Is the same level of action necessary to stop the pot smugglers from Luverne?

That’s hyperbole to be sure. At the same time, expect to see some sort of show of strength, or at least a strongly worded statement, about the risks of crossing lines with an edible in your pocket, regardless of your state citizenship.

At least in the early days after Minnesota Freedom Day don’t be surprised to see a few sobriety checkpoints at the fancy welcome to South Dakota rest stop just west of Exit 1 on Interstate 90.

Remember too, ingestion of a controlled substance is a felony.


Only in South Dakota mind you. But it’s real.

It might be a good idea, should you choose to take advantage of the benefits of New Amsterdam (My suggestion for a name change should the good citizens of Beaver Creek decide to go all in on the pot biz) then maybe head south out of town, through Manley and make your border crossing at Valley Springs.

Be safe people.

Don’t smoke and drive.

Opinion by Patrick Lalley
Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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