After a slow start during the 2021 legislative session, South Dakota lawmakers and state officials are stepping up the pace of planning and preparation for the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in South Dakota. Both forms are marijuana are set to become legal on July 1 after voters approved a pair of separate ballot measures.
A treatment that can reduce symptoms and hospitalizations and possibly prevent deaths due to COVID-19 is widely available in South Dakota and across the country, but health experts say the monoclonal antibody drugs are not being used as often as they could. South Dakota has done well in making the treatments available, but medical providers believe even more people could benefit from the treatment and they are taking steps to increase its use.
The COVID-19 vaccination process has gone well in South Dakota so far, but health officials and medical providers are about to open vaccinations to a new, larger group of people for whom it will be much harder to determine if they qualify for a shot. With only weeks to prepare, the state does not have a firm plan for how to identify, contact and verify the qualification status of people with two underlying medical conditions.
Only one bill has been filed so far regarding regulation of medical and recreational marijuana in South Dakota, both of which become legal on July 1, and lawmakers have a long way to go in creating a solid regulatory framework for legal weed. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are not waiting for the Legislature or courts to act and are making plans to monetize marijuana as soon as it becomes legal.
One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that more Native Americans living on South Dakota Indian reservations have begun the process to purchase a home, though long-standing barriers remain on reservations to achieving the financial security and family stability that homeownership can provide.
In what has been a busy year due to deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral home directors in South Dakota have had to work longer and harder, endure greater stress than usual and adapt to new ways of helping people grieve for loved-ones they have lost.
From bird-watching to boating, from hiking to hunting, more South Dakotans flocked to outdoor activities as a result of pandemic safety precautions that shut down many indoor activities. Many businesses and state wildlife conservation coffers saw a big financial benefit along the way.
Oglala Lakota College in southwestern South Dakota was able to keep its students and staff safe while also benefitting from federal aid that allowed for a vast expansion of computer and internet access for its students.
Support Nonprofit Investigative Journalism in South Dakota
South Dakota News Watch is funded by contributions from readers like you. All content is shared, free of charge, with media outlets across the state. To support our public service journalism, please consider making a contribution today.