South Dakota Medical Cannabis Program Goes Into Effect

The South Dakota Department of Health has released a preliminary list of qualifying conditions for the state’s new medical cannabis program.

The program, which goes into effect today, stems from voters’ passage of IM-26 in November 2020.

The list of conditions builds on the definition of debilitating medical condition in IM-26.

According to IM-26, a debilitating condition is a chronic or debilitating disease, medical condition, or treatment that produces cachexia (severe wasting syndrome), debilitating pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

“Under the law passed by the voters, patients must be experiencing a ‘debilitating medical condition’ and be certified by a doctor that medical cannabis will help alleviate their condition,” says South Dakota Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon. “This preliminary list of conditions meets the definition as passed by the voters and is a result of feedback the department has already received.”

Malsam-Ryson says a process for South Dakotans to petition to add more conditions to the list will be available in the future.

The current list includes AIDS, HIV, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, seizures, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and cancer-associated with severe or chronic pain, nausea, vomiting, or cachexia.

The start of South Dakota’s medical cannabis program coincides with the opening of the Native Nations Cannabis Dispensary on Flandreau Santee Sioux land.

While recognized as a sovereign government within South Dakota and the United States, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe opted to wait to open the dispensary until IM-26 went into effect.

“The Tribe is within its legal authority to establish a regulatory scheme for the cultivation and sale of cannabis on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation,” states a Tribe press release. “The Tribe does not, however, want its customers to be subject to arrest upon leaving the Reservation by state authorities, and therefore will wait until July 1, 2021 to begin sales to potential customers.”

Though medical clients to the Native Nations Cannabis Dispensary do not need to be a member of a federally recognized Tribe to obtain a medical cannabis card, they will still need to complete the application and pay the $50 licensing fee.

Caregivers must complete a separate application.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe will also honor medical cannabis cards from other tribes, states, territories, and countries.

By offering safe, legal cannabis products, the Tribe aims to produce revenue for tribal programs, curb black market sales, and prevent illegal diversion, especially to children.

Should the South Dakota Supreme Court approve Constitutional Amendment A, the Tribe says it will offer adult-use cannabis to people 21 years and older in accordance with Tribal ordinance.