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South Dakota Seeks Changes to Medical Rules

South Dakota finally has legalized medical cannabis. The state legalized it in 2020, but faced many obstacles before making legalization official. And still, the state’s dispensaries haven’t started distributing it. A change in regulations is the next step. This is what is happening behind closed doors. 

South Dakota’s Department of Health oversees medical marijuana. The South Dakota Department of Health recently conducted a public hearing in order to review proposed changes and discuss how the state could proceed if it is approved. You still have the opportunity to comment on these changes, despite the hearing being held on June 21. You can still send in your comments by snail mail or email until July 1. 

After receiving the final comments, the department will issue a decision. The changes must first be analyzed by the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee, which will make a decision on those proposed changes at their July 19 meeting. 

These changes are separate from those already approved that take place on July 1, the Legislature’s code counsel, John McCullough, pointed out. Other changes are the ones that Senate Bill 4 approved during its most recent session.

This approval is a significant milestone for health care providers. This change means that a doctor is no longer required to declare that medical cannabis will likely be used to treat the patient’s condition. The doctor does not have to declare that the patient is suffering from a serious medical condition. They can only state that they believe cannabis will be able to treat it. When it comes to legal cannabis, this takes some of the burden off physicians. 

Originaly, Measure 26 was passed by the voters during 2020. This was when marijuana was legalized. South Dakota State Medical Association disapproved of this wording because it forced doctors to declare that cannabis was a good option and would not only help but also be an option. 

The following are the current approved conditions for medical cannabis treatment in South Dakota: 

  • Acquired immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and positive status in the human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Malignant conditions such as severe, chronic, or nauseating pains, severe vomiting, or cachexia can lead to cancer.
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy, seizures
  • Post-Traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD).

You can add additional conditions by completing an application to find out if any more conditions are approved. They were all approved by the September 2021 committee, followed by a hearing on October 20, 211. 

Based on the success of a tribe’s dispensary, as well as the number of medical cards issued, South Dakota seems to have a strong desire for medical marijuana. A dispensary is currently legally operated by the flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, north of Sioux Falls. According to their data, more than 10,000 individuals have applied for medical cards with the tribe since July 1, 2013. As of June 13, the state department reported that 1,121 patients had been issued cards. 

It remains to be seen exactly what changes will be requested by the community during the comment period, but it’s clear that the community is hungry and ready for legal cannabis in their state after a long wait since legalization. In the interim, South Dakota’s community will collect comments in order to build a stronger medical cannabis community.