This past Wednesday, I attended the Executive Board Meeting in Pierre. It is an amazing honor to have been elected by my peers in the House to the Executive Board and I take my role very seriously. Being on the Board, allows me to stay informed and up to date on the most important, crucial issues and then pass that information along to you.
Many of you have contacted me asking where we stand on the implementation of IM-26. As many of you know IM-26 passed with 70% approval by the voters. The measure is effective July 1, 2021 with a 120-day window to get dispensaries set up, finalize protocols and rules. Perhaps the most timely and informative report of the day came from the Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health and Jim Terwilliger, Secretary of Revenue regarding where we are in the process of establishing the protocols, requirements, and implementation of IM-26.
Here is what we learned. The South Dakota Department of Health (SDDOH) is the lead state agency to implement the medical marijuana program. Part of the extensive requirements IM-26 (per SDCL 34:20G) include:
• Registration of “establishments”, which includes cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries
• The development of criteria for applicants to qualify
• Determine and define the amount individuals can possess (the current law has minimum of three plants for home grown)
• Issuance of cards by SDDOH to qualified individuals (including patients and caregivers)
• Guidelines to allow non-residents to use medical marijuana in South Dakota
• Development of patient verification system for use by establishments and law enforcements (i.e., It is illegal to transport across state and tribal lines)
• Development of testing criteria
• Development of fees and sliding fee scale for patients
• Implementation of administrative rules for each of these areas.
According to the SDDOH report, the law will become effective July 1,2021. The projected date for cards to be issued to patients and caregivers is by November 18, 2021. South Dakotan grown marijuana crops are not likely to be available before the summer of 2022.
The process to qualify for a SDDOH issued card, seems pretty straight forward:
1) The patient has a medical complaint and schedules appointment with their physician for an in-person assessment (required)
2) The patient sees their physician and the physician determines whether the patient is likely to receive therapeutic benefit from the medical use of cannabis
3) Patient applies with the SD Department of Health for a medical certification
4) If application is approved, the patient shops at Dispensary. The card issued by the DOH is not a medical prescription. It does not detail dosage, frequency, etc. It is simply a medical certification. When the members of the Executive Board asked about monitoring and/or enforcing the regulation of frequency that a card holder can obtain medical marijuana, the Secretary of Health stated that they hope to have a tracking/verification system in place that tracks the amount purchased and notes an amount that cannot be exceeded within a specific timeframe. Much like the prescription renewal used by pharmacy’s today.
When implementing a new “industry”, the administrative rules that need to be in place are daunting to say the least. The list includes (but not limited to), outlining qualifying conditions, application renewal process, criteria to score establishment applications, establishment of oversight, security, manufacturing standards, taxing the product, health and safety requirements, transportation of product, employment and training requirements, packaging and labeling and more!
In order to get current information and updates to interested parties in a timely manner, the SD Department of Health has launched a new webpage for easy access to information and updates as well as answers to frequently asked questions that promises to be very helpful. Please visit https://doh.sd.gov/news/MedicalMarijuana.aspx for more information.
The more I study IM-26, the more I realize the immense task ahead of us with a very short amount of time to accomplish it. This new “industry” being created within our state is definitely a multi-faceted issue with many, many moving and interlocking parts. I am so impressed with the hard work being done by those in the South Dakota Department of Health and Department of Revenue, as well as the excellent job that our summer study committee is doing to help create, establish and implement this new Medical Marijuana Program. Thank you for all your hard work on our behalf!
Rep. Trish Ladner is a District 30 Representative.