South Dakota’s Medical Cannabis Program Kicks Off

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem - medical cannabis

South Dakota has (finally) joined the growing list of US states with a medical cannabis program – sort of.

South Dakota Initiated Measure 26 (IM-26), the Medical Marijuana Initiative, was on the state’s ballot on November 3, 2020. 69.92% of voters supported establishing a medical marijuana program  for individuals with a debilitating medical condition.

In what has been an excruciating process, voters have finally had their wishes respected.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who wanted to delay implementation of the program until July 1, 2022, failed in her effort to do so. Governor Noem has demonstrated significant opposition to medical cannabis, and challenged it every step of the way. However, in a recent interview, the Governor was keen to indicate otherwise, stating:

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“I think there’s people that have misconstrued my position on medical marijuana,” Noem said. “For years, I’ve said I’ve supported medical marijuana.”

Anyway, last week the South Dakota Department of Health released a list of conditions that will be covered by the state’s medical cannabis program initially.

  • AIDS/HIV
  • ALS
  • MS
  • Cancer associated with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy/seizures
  • Glaucoma
  • PTSD

“This preliminary list of conditions meets the definition as passed by the voters, and is a result of feedback the department has already received,” said South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon last week. “A process will be available for South Dakotans to petition to add more conditions to this list in the future.”

The list followed the Department’s proposed administrative rules to implement the program.

While the program may now be (sort of) active, there’s still some way to go before the state’s patients will be able to purchase medicines. For example, the Department of Health is yet to announce the process to obtain medical marijuana cards – it says it will do so by  October 29, 2021. Rules also need to be put in place related to medical cannabis establishments.

The Department notes:

“Any sale or purchase of cannabis outside of the regulated medical cannabis establishments is illegal.”

More information on South Dakota’s program can be found here.

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