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  1. Gov. Kristi Noem called the medical marijuana program in Oklahoma "a mess," but some officials in Oklahoma and South Dakota argue that the program has fulfilled the wishes of voters and has made starting a marijuana-related business easy for local entrepreneurs.
  2. As South Dakota prepares to roll out a framework for legalization of medical marijuana, South Dakota News Watch provides a look at how medical marijuana programs are operating in North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana.
  3. A South Dakota lawmaker who is a leader on marijuana legalization says that despite concerns of Gov. Kristi Noem that the state needs another year to implement a medical marijuana program, he believes the state can implement an efficient program by the end of the year as planned.
  4. South Dakota fared better than most other states in terms of its tourism economy in 2020, but the state still saw significant losses, including a 13% decline in visitors and an 18% drop in visitor spending. But with COVID-19 vaccinations rising and a strong sense of wanderlust among travelers, the South Dakota tourism industry is hoping for a major revival in 2021.
  5. As the dairy industry in South Dakota continues to expand, robots have become the latest high-tech tool in milk production. One dairy farmer near Lake Norden has made robotics that latest element of a wide-ranging expansion of his business.
  6. The latest technological advancement in the dairy industry involves the use of robotics that allow cows to be milked, fed, watered, rested and washed without direct human contact. The process reduces personnel costs, improves efficiency and could be a way to attract young farmers to a growing industry in South Dakota. After visiting the Drumgoon Dairy in Lake Norden, South Dakota News Watch is providing this package of photos and videos to show how the $12 million robotics operation functions.
  7. FIRST OF TWO PARTS: The South Dakota dairy industry is undergoing a rapid expansion both among existing farms and with new operations launching or relocating from other states to meet the increasing need for milk by the state's flourishing cheesemaking industry. The expansion that shows no signs of slowing is providing a big economic boost to farmers and farm communities across eastern South Dakota.
  8. Concerns over the spread of COVID-19 have led many South Dakotans to delay getting the dental care they need, raising the risk of periodontal diseases including tooth or bone loss but also heightening the chance of more serious health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
  9. Native American tribes and tribal members in South Dakota may have advantages in entering the legal marijuana market quickly and successfully if legalization becomes final. Sovereign nation status, available land, a ready workforce and nimble government operations have benefited tribes in other states and could also create new economic development opportunities in South Dakota.
  10. Lawmakers have passed and sent to Gov. Kristi Noem a bill to allow the South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation to develop a new type of health benefits plan that would provide affordable coverage to farmers and ranchers but which would operate outside the purview and regulatory oversight of the state Division of Insurance. Backers say it will provide health coverage for thousands of uninsured people in the agriculture industry; opponents say it removes consumer protections and would provide only limited benefits that could put policyholders at risk.
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