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Booze Bigger Worry Than Weed At Sturgis Bike Rally: Cops

The chief said his officers will not arrest medical marijuana card holders from other states.

Rensch Law

Times are changing. As the local police chief readies for the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, he says he’s more concerned about a new open container ordinance than about those who will be smoking marijuana.

Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater said having open containers within downtown boundaries will be a major learning curve. He added that’s more of a concern than is medical marijuana, reports the Rapid City Journal.

“We’ll be trying to work with local establishments and educate them that only wine and beer can be in the event cup,” Chief VanDewater said. “A lot of it is public education. My focus will be working on educating local establishments and the people serving us.”

The chief said his officers will not arrest medical marijuana card holders from other states. South Dakota voters approved medical marijuana last November.

“Medical cards mean they’re legally able to possess the marijuana as long as it’s within the confines of the law, and we’ll honor that,” VanDewater said. “We’d like to encourage people to have their medical cards on them so we can streamline the process.”

VanDewater said, though, that just because someone has a medical card doesn’t mean they can consume Cannabis in public. Also, you can get in trouble for sparking a doob in motor vehicles or in business establishments.

Open Containers May Cause Problems

Those enjoying the rally in Sturgis City will be allowed to carry open container event cups in certain areas if they have an official souvenir cup that will require an ID to purchase. 

Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin, meanwhile, said open containers may cause more problems than normal. But the sheriff doesn’t “perceive it being a huge deal.”

There is, however, a greater potential for more fights or assaults.

“I hope that’s not the case,” he said. “The visitors that come here for the rally overall do a very good job of policing themselves and overall do a very good job of behaving themselves. They’re a fairly good bunch of people that come here.”

South Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Jason Ketterling said drinking and driving will be a primary concern for his officers. Hundreds of thousands of rally-goers will descend upon the Black Hills.

South Dakota voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana in November. But state lawmakers are just now reviewing 105 pages of rules proposed by the state’s Department of Health.

VanDewater and Ketterling said both agencies will see an increase in the number of people on staff during the rally. Law enforcement officers are taking into account that the 81st could be as big as the 75th.