Rules-writing process for South Dakota medical marijuana featured tele-town halls on Monday

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota citizens had more questions than state Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon could answer Monday evening about medical marijuana laws that take effect July 1.

The state Department of Health held two teleconferences for questions and comments about the draft rules that were publicly released June 24.

The 5 p.m. CT first session ran more than 50 minutes and had 271 people register by the 2 p.m. CT cutoff. The second one at 6:30 p.m. had 218 register.

The questions about the 105-page draft were all over the map. Secretary Malsom-Rysdon said the plan calls for accepting comments about the draft rules through July 8. Questions can be emailed to

She said the department will need to hold a formal public hearing sometime after July 9 and the final version will need to be delivered to the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee, The six lawmakers have a meeting scheduled September 23.

The final rules must be in place no later than October 29. Malsam-Rysdon said the department plans to start processing applications for medical-marijuana cards after that.

Patients or their guardians who have what are defined as “a debilitating health condition” must ask their South Dakota medical physicians to agree to certify the patient has the condition.

The deadline to start issuing cards is November 18.

Patients or their guardians must send $100 with each application unless they qualify for a low-income $20 card. A card is valid for one year and will be tracked in a state-managed registry.

Businesses such as cultivators, processors, testers, wholesalers and retail dispensaries must apply too. The regulations require all marijuana must be grown and processed and sold within South Dakota.

There are detailed packaging and labeling regulations proposed to help patients and care-givers keep the marijuana products out of the reach of children and people who aren’t certified.

Malsam-Rysdon said there will be a process for the department consider adding a condition if two medical doctors make a recommendation.

Several callers said the proposed regulations for covered conditions were too tight. Others commented about the $100 application fee.

Malsam-Rysdon said federal Veterans Administration doctors won’t be able to certify armed-forces veterans because marijuana remains listed as a federal controlled substance. She said that ban applies to all physicians working for the federal government.

She sidestepped suggestions there was a way at the federal level to get a state exemption, such a caller said as Iowa has.

Governor Kristi Noem campaigned last fall against the passage of both IM 26 and Amendment A legalizing marijuana for people age 21 and older. Medical marijuana passed 70-30 and Amendment A 54-46 in the November 3 election.

The Amendment A case is pending at the South Dakota Supreme Court, and state court administrator Greg Sattizahn said last week the justices won’t have a decision before July 1. He said the constitutional amendment remains invalid until the high court rules.

Custer Councilmember Peg Ryan raised questions about how revenue will be raised and who is responsible for enforcement of dispensaries in municipalities.

Malsam-Rysdon said the state’s 4.5% sales tax will apply because the cards are for certifications rather than prescriptions. As for stiffer enforcement, Malsam-Rysdon said, “We will likely see some local governments choose to do that.” She indicated that both local and state officers would enforce the local requirements.

A caller from Huron sounded unclear why at least one tribal government is prepared to start operating July 1 before state regulations take effect. Malsam-Rysdon’s answer wasn’t clear. 

In the second call, Malsam-Rysdon said a comment that Governor Noem was dragging her heels on the regulations was incorrect.

The Legislature, with Noem active behind the scenes, attempted to delay the program’s a year or six months but the measure died.

Malsam-Rysdon said she expects medical marijuana to be available in summer or fall 2022. She said the $100 fee was “subject to change.”

Meanwhile the Legislature medical-marijuana subcommittee was in Iowa Monday learning about its program.

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