PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — There could be criminal penalties against healthcare providers as well as entities for reaching certain financial arrangements with people seeking to qualify as patients in South Dakota’s medical-cannabis program.
The state House of Representatives gave final legislative approval on a 65-3 vote Monday morning to HB1154.
“Friendly” was how Republican Rep. Greg Jamison described wording that the Senate added last week broadening the proposed law to cover entities.
The measure now goes to Governor Kristi Noem for her decision whether to sign it into law.
The legislation would prohibit a provider or an entity from offering a discount, deal or other financial incentive to a patient for making an appointment for certification to receive a state medical-cannabis card.
It also would prohibit a provider or entity from basing the charge on the duration of the certification to be issued.
Appointments in licensed alcohol establishments also would be banned.
A violation would be a class-2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in county jail and a $500 fine.
The House also passed legislation Monday that would add PTSD and other health conditions as reasons that patients can be certified for medical-cannabis cards.
There were no supporters to spare however on the 36-32 result. Legislation needs at least 36 yes votes to clear the House.
SB1 now returns to the Senate for a decision on whether to agree with the House version. A House committee removed glaucoma from the list of qualifying conditions.
The House debate turned into an argument about whether cannabis helps people with PTSD.
“A night’s sleep is what we’re asking for,” Republican Rep. Ernie Otten said in calling for the bill’s passage. “People are just hurting.”
Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch spoke against it. He said studies have shown marijuana doesn’t nullify PTSD’s effects and cannabis users were at higher risks of death.
“I’m going to ask you to please turn this down,” said Deutsch, who helped lead an effort last fall that defeated a measure legalizing recreational marijuana in South Dakota.
Republican Rep. Kevin Jensen said the legislation would open medical cannabis to 40,000 to 50,000 more people. “This is literally recreational marijuana-like,” he said.
Jensen said they would include firefighters, police and first responders. “How many are we going to take out of service?” he asked.
But Republican Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt said the state Department of Health alerted the state Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee last year to the challenges of adding debilitating conditions. She said South Dakota is one of two medical-marijuana states where PTSD isn’t a qualifying condition.
“These are patients that need help, and sometimes patients are desperate, and sometimes providers are desperate,” Rehfeldt said.
Jamison noted that the legislation came from the oversight committee. “We should trust them,” he said.