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Medical Cannabis Patients in South Dakota Can Officially Apply for Certification

South Dakota patients who are eligible can apply for a card to medical cannabis under the new law. It has been clumsy in its rollout.

A notice posted Monday on a state government website dedicated to the new medical cannabis program said that physicians “can now access the medical cannabis patient portal and begin certifying medical cannabis patients.”

“Once certified by a physician, patients will then be able to access the online application process and complete their applications,” the notice said. “Approved applicants will have a medical cannabis patient card mailed to them.”

Two weeks ago, a legislative rule committee approved revised rules issued by the Department of Health.

Monday’s notice from the department ends months of uncertainty and disputes surrounding the new medical marijuana law, which was approved overwhelmingly by South Dakota voters at the ballot in last year’s election.

Although the law went into effect July 1, no dispensaries opened on that day, except for one which had opened a reservation of Native Americans in the state.

Officials from the state government were concerned about the cards that the tribal-run dispensary had issued; South Dakota Governor. Kristi Noem said at the time that the state’s highway patrol would not recognize tribal-issued cards to individuals who are not members of the tribe.

South Dakota’s medical marijuana market is not likely to explode outside this dispensary. It will only kick off in 2022. 

Noem has been widely thought to be a likely Republican presidential candidate for 2024.

“One of my jobs as governor is to make sure the will of the people and all constitutional laws are enforced. The medical cannabis program is on schedule, and we’re working to implement a responsible program that follows the direction given by the voters,” Noem said in one of the ads. 

The ads caused controversy when it became clear that the advertisements were funded by taxpayer funds to the tune more than 300,000. 

The ads didn’t sit right with some critics, who noted that Noem was against the medical marijuana proposal throughout the 2020 campaign, and that the PSAs offered little in the way of useful information.

South Dakota voters approved the ballot proposition to legalize adult recreational marijuana use. But, that law also encountered obstacles from Noem. After a challenge by two state law enforcement officers, the ballot proposal (known as Amendment A) was rejected in South Dakota.

The judge ruled against the amendment, saying it “has far-reaching effects on the basic nature of South Dakota’s governmental system.”

Noem was pleased with the outcome.

“Today’s decision protects and safeguards our constitution,” Noem said in a statement at the time. “I’m confident that South Dakota Supreme Court, if asked to weigh in as well, will come to the same conclusion.”

While the state Supreme Court continues to deliberate on the issue, a legislative panel made a recommendation that lawmakers pursue a bill which would legalize recreational marijuana with a 15% tax rate for sales. 

Six months had passed since the last spring, and six more were spent studying this matter before its final recommendation was made late last month.