South Dakota’s medical cannabis rules OK’d

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee has given the green light to most of the 124 pages of proposed regulations for medical cannabis in South Dakota from the state Department of Health.

The lawmakers began work at about 10:45 a.m. Monday. The panel’s final vote came at about 4:20 p.m.

The tally was 4-1.

“I just want to say, on the whole, the work that the department has done here is exceptional,” Representative Jon Hansen, the panel’s chair, said. “For them to come in and with just a flair of expertise present this rules package in a way that undoubtedly took hours and hours and hours of work and expertise behind the scenes to get to this point, I just really commend the department for their work on this.”

Senate Democrat leader Troy Heinert cast the vote against. “As I talk to people across the state they wanted it legalized, taxed and done. I think we’ve made it more difficult than we had to,” he said. He added, “From our side of the aisle, we’re all about freedom.”

The lawmakers however sent back for further work a half-dozen of the proposals.

One was the department’s recommendation that people certified to grow cannabis at home could have only three marijuana plants unless a physician specifically recommended more (proposed rule 44:90:02:03).

IM 26 that voters approved in November set a three-plant minimum in state law.

Lobbyists for the South Dakota State Medical Association and the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations said they didn’t want practitioners put in the position of explaining their reasons for recommending more than three. The panel unanimously backed Heinert on that.

Hansen, a lawyer, succeeded 3-2 in making the department hold off, for now, on its proposed list of eight debilitating medical conditions (44:90:13:01). He said state law required the rules to be in place before the department could offer the list.

“You have to have a starting place,” countered Senator Jean Hunhoff. She and Heinert wanted to let the department proceed with them.

Representative Ryan Cwach, a lawyer, stopped the proposed ban against advertising (40:90:10:17) on a 3-2 vote.

Senator Timothy Johns, a lawyer and retired state circuit judge, was supported 5-1 on removing a proposed requirement that deliveries to retail outlets needed to be pre-packaged (40:90:10:01).

Johns won 4-2 on removing a proposed restriction that no cardholder may possess more than four grams of concentrated cannabis with a THC content of greater than 60 percent and in smokable form (40:90:02:18). Heinert got a similar 60% reference removed from another proposed rule (40:90:10:14) on a 3-2 vote.

Hunhoff, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Appropriations that oversees state government’s annual budget, questioned the accuracy of the department’s revenue and expense projections. State Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the numbers were based on the experiences of similar states.

Hunhoff said the appropriators could direct the secretary to return to the rules committee with adjusted amounts.

Malsam-Rysdon said the $75 fee for card applicants — and $20 for low-income applicants — is supposed to cover the cost of issuing cards. The $5,000 licensing fee per establishment — lowest in the nation — was set in IM 26.

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