State board revises its proposed rules on medical cannabis in South Dakota schools

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A revised version of medical-cannabis rules for South Dakota public K-12 schools received approval Friday from the state Board of Education Standards.

The new set reflects changes the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee wanted. The vote was 7-0.

“We believe every concern they raised has been addressed here,” Amanda LaCroix, one of the state Department of Education attorneys, said.

Board member Steve Willard of Belle Fourche asked whether the rules would now go through. “Fingers crossed, that’s my hope,” LaCroix said.

The board will find out July 19 when the legislative committee next meets.

The six lawmakers wouldn’t give the final green light last month. They said the proposed rules went too far, by covering non-public schools, too, and didn’t adequately cover some situations.

Diane Roy, a state Department of Education attorney, said Friday she was able to confine the medical-cannabis rules in the revised proposal to public K-12 schools by citing a state law regarding medication and health services for public K-12 schools.

Roy said the state Board of Regents has prohibited the use or storage of medical marijuana on any property it owns or controls, such as the campuses of the eight public universities, or at any activities.

She said she wasn’t aware of any school district being financially penalized by the federal government because of medical marijuana. Marijuana remains on the U.S. government’s controlled-substances list.

Education Standards member Phyllis Heineman of Sioux Falls Heineman asked whether the proposed K-12 rules provide sufficient liability protection for school districts.

Roy said sovereign immunity should be a legal defense for almost any act by a local government employee, other than gross negligence.

“It would have to be an extreme circumstance that sovereign immunity would not cover,” Roy said.

The rules became necessary after South Dakota voters approved IM 26 in November legalizing marijuana for medical use. The state Department of Health was given responsibility for almost of the new rules. That process is still under way.

One part of IM 26 said the state education board needed to adopt rules as close as possible to the rules Colorado had in 2019. That led to the disagreement over whether the South Dakota rules should apply to public and non-public schools.

The education board wanted its rules in place before K-12 classes resume in August. Both the board’s chair, Jacqueline Sly of Rapid City, and Roy noted that state law didn’t require a second public hearing. But Sly held off approval of the revisions until after a public-comment period. No one came forward.

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