PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A state lawmaker doesn’t want South Dakota’s medical marijuana program changing how it determines risks and benefits.

But the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee has let the changes go ahead.

The panel voted 5-1 Tuesday to let the state Department of Health remove a requirement from how the department decides whether a debilitating condition qualifies.

The department no longer will need to determine whether “Treatments currently available for the proposed condition are either ineffective or produce harmful side effects.”

The department also received the green light to rewrite the wording in a related requirement.

The existing rule said, “Medical use of cannabis will provide therapeutic or palliative benefits that outweigh the risks of cannabis use.” That now will be changed to read, “Medical use of cannabis is determined to provide benefits that outweigh the risks of cannabis use.”

Tim Engel, a Pierre lawyer representing the South Dakota State Medical Association, spoke against those specific changes. Representative Kevin Jensen agreed. The Canton Republican said there would no longer be any way for determining what benefits are.

Ali Schaefbauer, an attorney for the department, said those proposed rules match changes the Legislature made earlier this year in Senate Bill 4.

The new law removed the “therapeutic or palliative benefits” requirement from the medical certification a patient must receive from a physician or other practitioner to apply for a medical marijuana card. The bill passed the Senate 34-0 and the House 64-2. Jensen voted for it.

Representative Jon Hansen, a Dell Rapids Republican, asked Schaefbauer whether there was a difference between “benefits” and “therapeutic or palliative benefits.” Replied Schaefbauer, “I am unsure there’s a distinction here.”

Senator Timothy Johns, a Lead Republican and retired circuit judge, re-read the new law. “As far as I’m concerned the language is clear and the amendment is appropriate,” he said.

Jeremiah Murphy, a lobbyist for the Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota, and Emmett Reistroffer, representing licensee Genesis Farms, spoke in favor of the full package of proposed rules changes. The committee voted 5-1 to allow it to go ahead.