Senators spare marijuana card clinics from new prohibitions
Companies specializing in cannabis certifications necessary to maintain adequate access to medical marijuana program, opponents of bill say
PIERRE — Specialty clinics that exist solely to certify patients for cannabis use will continue to be available for South Dakotans seeking medical marijuana cards.
That’s the result of a 5-2 vote in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday morning rejecting a measure proposing criminal penalties for doctors and physicians who certify patients for the South Dakota Department of Health’s medical marijuana program without having a prior relationship.
Proponents of Senate Bill 82 had hoped to narrow down who can certify patients to use and grow medical marijuana in the state after the arrival of several companies to South Dakota that connect cannabis-friendly doctors with medical marijuana card applicants. Those companies, sometimes referred to as “pop-up” clinics, are credited with driving up the number of South Dakotans registered to use cannabis to more than 13,000 since the state launched the program in 2021.
But senators who opposed the bill say too much uncertainty around what constitutes a bona fide doctor-patient relationship, continued apprehension among the state’s major health systems to embrace cannabis as a medicine, and prohibitions on cannabis certifications by physicians working within federal health systems mean requiring patients to have an established relationship with a physician who certifies them for medical marijuana use could leave those who need medical marijuana without options to legally obtain it.