PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State-permitted dispensaries haven’t yet started distributing medical cannabis in South Dakota after voters legalized it in the 2020 election. But there already are plans to alter South Dakota’s regulations for it.

The South Dakota Department of Health that oversees the program holds a public hearing Tuesday, June 21, at 1 p.m. CT on proposed changes. The hearing is in the Hayes Building, between the South Dakota Capitol building and Capitol Lake, at 600 E. Capitol Avenue, Pierre.

The deadline for submitting written comments on the changes is July 1, 2022. They can be sent by email to dohcomments@state.sd.us or sent via U.S. mail to Department of Health, 600 E. Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD 57501.

The department will then make a final decision. The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee would consider the changes at its July 19 meeting.

The Legislature’s code counsel, John McCullough, already has noted that the proposed rules don’t reflect a significant change that takes effect July 1.

That is the passage of Senate Bill 4 during the 2022 legislative session.

The revised version of the law reflects a change sought by health care providers. A physician no longer will be required to state that the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of cannabis to treat or alleviate the patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptom associated with the debilitating medical condition.

Instead, the physician must only state the patient has a qualifying debilitating medical condition or symptom associated with the debilitating medical condition.

The original requirement for a physician was part of Initiated Measure 26, which voters approved 291,754 to 125,488 in the November 2020 general election. The South Dakota State Medical Association opposed passage of IM 26.

Debilitating conditions include:

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease;
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS);
  • Cancer associated with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • Epilepsy and seizures; and
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

People can apply to add a condition to the list.

The state department held two rounds of rules hearings last year in September and a final round in October.

There appears to be significant appetite for medical marijuana, based on customers at a tribal dispensary that opened after South Dakota’s law took effect.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe operates a medical-marijuana dispensary on tribal property in Moody County north of Sioux Falls. Recent numbers showed that more than 10,000 people had registered with the tribe for medical-marijuana cards since July 1, 2021. By comparison, the state Department of Health reported 1,121 approved patient cards as of June 13.