PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Medical marijuana users in South Dakota will still be allowed to purchase pot gummies, as well as other forms of edible cannabis as the House of Representatives voted 47-21 in favor of killing a bill to ban the sale of several forms of marijuana.
The bill, brought by Rep. Fred Deutsch (R-Florence) received spirited debate in the House State Affairs Committee, where it passed by just one vote on Wednesday. Proponents of the bill at the time argued that the existence of edibles are a danger to children, and that cannabis producer specifically market them to kids.
Opponents of the bill said that appeals to child safety amounted to fear-mongering, saying that the bill would only serve to keep those in need from receiving their medication, and that the current law already bans any efforts to market marijuana to children.
These themes carried over to the debate preceding the vote on the House floor Thursday afternoon.
Deutsch spoke first, emphasizing his belief that cannabis producers target children with colorful and flavored products. On comparisons between medical marijuana and other flavored products such as cough syrups or vitamin supplements, Deutsch said that children can’t confuse them for treats, and that they can’t lead to hospitalization.
He also made the claim that South Dakota voters didn’t understand that edibles would be allowed when roughly 7 in 10 voted to legalize medical marijuana, telling the body that he “can almost guarantee” that voters weren’t thinking of edibles being allowed.
Other legislatures pushed back on his claims.
Rep. Oren Lesmeister (D-Parade) brought up the example of cherry and grape flavored childrens’ Tylenol, pointing out that over-consuming the product could absolutely be dangerous, as well as flavored supplements, many of which he noted are not approved by the FDA.
Lesmeister also provided a personal appeal, asking his fellow members to place themselves in the shoes of someone who relies on medical marijuana, and sharing the example of his own grandson who suffers seizures, and who is medicated with THC gummy bears.
Rep. Ryan Cwach (D-Yankton) pushed back on Deutsch’s claim that voters didn’t understand what they were voting for. He said that voters weren’t just limited to marijuana flowers when they voted, and that people know that there are multiple forms of marijuana available on the market.
Many adults, Cwach pointed out, actually prefer edibles as their primary form of ingesting medical marijuana. He went on to appeal to the South Dakota ideal of freedom, and added that the Department of Health already has stringent rules in place.
Serving on the Rules Review committee, Cwach claims to be extremely aware of these rules, pointing out that there is even a rule that prohibits administering cannabis rectally. The DOH has been thorough, says Cwach, pointing out that one rule, 44-90-07 (4), specifically prohibits the manufacturing of products intended to appeal to anyone under 21-years of age.
Deutsch closed out debate on the bill, saying that rules are subject to change, and arguing that having rules on things like labels isn’t good enough, because most kids under 5 can’t read. He said that nothing in his bill prohibits moms and dads from buying medical marijuana for their kids, and ended with a rhetorical question aimed at the testimony offered by Rep. Lesmeister regarding his grandson.
“Why don’t we make all medicines in gummy bear form,” asked Deutsch. “There’s a reason,” he answered himself, without elaborating.
Voting commenced, and the bill failed with 47 members opposing, and 2 excused. Minutes later, discussion had turned to the next item on the agenda, HB 1057, prohibiting the unauthorized transfer of cannabis and cannabis products by a medical cannabis cardholder to another person, also brought by Deutsch.