Late last week, the South Dakota Department of Health released proposed regulations for the state’s forthcoming medical cannabis industry. On Monday, the Department held its first public hearings on its first draft, during which participants’ questions ranged from whether the state’s definition of a qualifying condition would apply to their illness to whether medical cannabis products could be sold for consumption by livestock.
South Dakota made history in November by becoming the first state in the nation where voters passed both medical and adult-use cannabis legalization initiatives on the same day. But, as Cannabis Wire has reported, the state could also become the first state where a lawsuit initiated by its governor results in voter-approved cannabis reforms getting overturned.
Gov. Kristi Noem didn’t battle the medical cannabis initiative, Measure 26, hence the drafting of the rules discussed on Monday. But the state Supreme Court will decide any day now on the fate of Amendment A, a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for adult use and also require the legislature to develop medical cannabis and hemp rules by April 1, 2022.
In the midst of all of this came Monday’s back-to-back “telephone town hall” hearings on medical cannabis. Ahead of releasing the draft for public input, state officials have already invited other entities to make suggestions. This month alone, the Department of Health held a conference call with SD County Commissioners Association and SD Municipal League, and asked for input from the SD State Medical Association and the SD Association of Healthcare Organizations.
As Cannabis Wire recently reported, the Municipal League is calling for an avenue for municipality-owned cannabis shops, modeled after government-run liquor stores.
The draft rules are similar to most other medical cannabis programs. A patient, for example, must have a “serious and chronic medical condition” for which existing treatments are “either ineffective or produce harmful side effects” and for which the use of cannabis has “therapeutic or palliative benefits that outweigh the risks.”
Most of the questions on Monday focused on this definition, as potential patients wondered whether their particular medical condition would make them eligible for the program. There were also questions on reciprocity, for example, how a resident of another state who qualifies for medical cannabis in that state could access medical cannabis in South Dakota. And, some participants asked what they should do if their doctor refuses to provide them with the recommendation required to possess or obtain medical cannabis.
Patients will be able to grow cannabis at home, or purchase it in a shop. Business license types will include cultivation, manufacture, retail, and quality control labs. Products can include edibles and beverages, topicals, tinctures, oils, and flower, and they will be subject to the state’s sales tax.
On Monday, the health department also reiterated that cannabis cannot be transported across state lines, as several participants asked about this.
The medical cannabis law goes into effect on July 1, and the DOH has until October 29 to finalize the rules.