PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The people behind the popup sites where practitioners examine patients who want to be in South Dakota’s medical-cannabis program won’t face any additional regulations, at least not this year.
A state legislative panel has killed two proposals that sought to limit where the exams could be conducted and restrict their advertising.
Republican Sen. Al Novtrup, the lead Senate sponsor on both, cast the lone votes in their support.
Republican Rep. Fred Deutsch was prime sponsor of all four medical-cannabis bills considered by the committee Wednesday morning.
They would add a seventh duty to the state’s medical-cannabis oversight committee — recommending any changes regarding medical and clinical aspects of the state program — and would waive the re-registration fee for patients who had received cannabis-use cards on a 60-day trial basis and were re-applying.
All four of Deutsch’s bills previously cleared the House of Representatives.
South Dakota voters by a nearly 70-30 spread approved a 2020 ballot measure legalizing medical cannabis. Deutsch led the successful campaign last year against a ballot issue that sought to legalize recreational marijuana.
He told the Senate committee Wednesday, “The voters clearly want marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes and not for recreational purposes.” He said there is concern in the Legislature about popup clinics. “And the voters want clarity between the two.”
South Dakota sheriffs and police chiefs groups supported both bills that the committee killed. Jeremiah Murphy representing the Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota testified against them.
In the case of HB1129, Murphy said most physicians aren’t familiar with medical marijuana and often refer patients to practitioners who are. He said the bill wasn’t necessary because there already is a “mature, robust” set of laws and regulations governing how providers interact with patients.
“Putting up more speed limit signs doesn’t make the speed limit more clear,” Murphy said.
Republican Sen. Erin Tobin, who chairs the oversight committee, called for the two bills to be set aside. She asked Deutsch with whom he worked on 1129 regarding patients’ access to providers. He consulted with the state Department of Health, which operates the medical-cannabis program, but said the department’s official position was to be neutral.
Deutsch said the oversight committee’s one bill, SB-1, doesn’t address the popup problem. “I would have loved to see the bill from the oversight committee, frankly, but we didn’t have one,” he said.
Tobin noted that the state department didn’t have anyone present in the hearing room. “We need them at the table to be able to discuss to do that,” she said.
As for SB-1, Tobin said its intent was to make physicians more comfortable by specifically listing the debilitating conditions for which patients can be certified to use medical cannabis. She described it as “a step forward” in improving patients’ access to more providers.
SB-1 cleared the Senate on a 20-15 vote on January 19 and a month later still awaits a hearing in the House Health and Human Services Committee. (Full Story)