South Dakota Senate Committee pass series of medical cannabis bills

PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) — The 2024 South Dakota Legislature continues to tinker with the citizen-passed medical cannabis law.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed three bills that add requirements or modify the medical marijuana program.

SB10, which passed 5 to 0, requires that a patient’s primary care physician is notified when their patient receives a medical marijuana card.

SB11, which also passed 5 to 0, prevents a practitioner from referring a patient to a medical cannabis clinic that the provider or their immediate family has an interest in.

SB71, which passed 4 to 1, makes it easier for local law enforcement and other government entities to inspect, search, seize, prosecute, or impose disciplinary actions on medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities.

Republican Sen. Erin Tobin from Winner sponsored SB10 and SB11.

She said SB10 is good practice.

With SB71, Republican Sen. Jim Mehlhaff from Pierre, the sponsor, said the medical marijuana law passed by voters in 2020 constrains local law enforcement. He said he understood why the law left inspection to the Department of Health only to help develop the new industry. However, he says the law has been on the books for several years, but now it is time to allow local law enforcement to also check on compliance.

Two industry lobbyists spoke against the bill. S.D. Cannabis Association lobbyist Jeremiah Murphy says the passage of medical marijuana was a “180-degree cultural shift” and that the law draws a bright line around medical cannabis. He said, “The voters have spoken.”

Genesis Farms lobbyist, former Attorney General Roger Tellinghuisen, said the current law adequately guards the Department of Health to do their inspections and cannabis facilities do obey the law. He said law enforcement can already investigate if they have probable cause.

The bill passed 4 to 1. The measure now heads to the Senate.