IM26 passed by the voters last fall legalizes medical marijuana in South Dakota. While the measure itself goes into effect on July 1, that does not automatically mean that those who want to use medical cannabis will be able to go to a local dispensary and buy some starting on July 1. The measure itself contains several specific dates for implementing various portions of the law. It also creates an oversight committee to monitor implementation and to make recommendations to the Legislature and the Department of Health on possible improvements.
At its meeting in early June, the LRC’s executive board appointed the 14 members for the IM26 Oversight Committee. Several District 24 residents are on that committee including Ft. Pierre resident Brian Doherty, Pierre Police Captain Bryan Walz, DCI Assistant Director Brian Zeeb, AG staff member Mathew Templar, and Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon.
By October 29, the Department of Health must adopt rules to establish and implement criteria related to patient cards, medical marijuana establishments, and related topics governing medical cannabis. The rules-making process is very detailed and can take several months to complete. The Department of Health is currently taking input from stakeholders and is working to have a set of rules finalized in July. The Department plans to have a public hearing on the rules in August, before going to the legislature’s Rules Review Committee in September.
By November 18, the Department must be able to issue registry identification cards to qualifying patients and caregivers.
Patients who have a qualifying debilitating medical condition must see their physician, who will determine whether the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of cannabis. While physicians are not allowed to prescribe medical cannabis, they may certify that, in their professional opinion, the patient is likely to receive a benefit from the use of cannabis.
Patients with this certification can apply to the Department of Health for a registry identification card. These cards will be valid for up to one year. The patient will then be able to take the card to a licensed dispensary to purchase the medical marijuana. Only licensed dispensaries will be able to sell medical cannabis; pharmacies will not be able to sell the product. Also, since medical cannabis is not considered a prescription, it will be subject to state and local taxes.
The Department of Health has established a web page (doh.sd.gov/news/MedicalMarijuana.aspx) to keep the public informed of the state’s medical marijuana program. The page includes a FAQ section to help provide additional information on the topic. Also, please feel free to contact me with questions, and I will work to find answers for you.