SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Last fall, South Dakota voters approved both medical and recreational marijuana.
Right now, recreational marijuana is tied up in the courts and medical marijuana is set to become legal in a little over a month.
South Dakota lawmakers are studying both forms and how they’re going to be regulated.
A committee made up of several lawmakers began hearing testimony today from medical professionals and those in favor of both medical and recreational marijuana.
Dr. Benjamin Aaker of Yankton is the president of the South Dakota State Medical Association.
He testified remotely and says there needs to be more research.
“The research takes a lot of time and we are not there yet with marijuana, marijuana has some 400 different chemicals and we do believe there are some chemicals that are in that marijuana plant that are and can be beneficial to the health of patients who are suffering from afflictions but we also believe there are a number of chemicals in there that are harmful to patients as well,” Dr. Aaker said.
Committee members questioned why South Dakota is getting such a late start.
“Medical marijuana has been in a number of states for a number of years just wondering why testing hasn’t begun and what are we waiting for,” Representative Mike Derby of R-Rapid City said.
“A lot of research is done on a federal level, from federal grants and federal institutions and because marijuana is a schedule 1 drug meaning that at the federal level society believes there’s no real benefit to using it so they limit research very severely,” Dr. Aaker said.
Medical marijuana is supposed to become legal in the state starting July 1st, but supporters say there could be other problems.
“When you get a recommendation for medical marijuana it does come from your physician ideally we would like it to come from your family physician but Sanford Health, Avera and Monument Health I understand they are going to opt out of providing, which places patients in this state in a very very hard situation,” Melissa Mentele the author of IM 26 said.
State Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon also testified. She told lawmakers that her department won’t start issuing medical marijuana cards until November 18th and South Dakota-grown marijuana won’t be available in the state until some time in 2022.
The committee will hear more testimony tomorrow.