South Dakota Department of Health unveils preliminary list of conditions, as tribal nation dispensary opens doors

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

During fall of last year, South Dakota went down in U.S. history as the first ever state to simultaneously pass ballot measures legalizing adult-use and medical cannabis. 

Since that time, the rollout of legal cannabis has been fairly slow. Nonetheless, things are moving in the right direction, with the State Department of Health (DOH) finally releasing a list of preliminary conditions.

It was on November 3, 2020 that South Dakota voters approved the Medical Marijuana Initiative, A.K.A. “Measure 26”. Here we are, eight months later, and the eagerly anticipated medical cannabis program is finally effective.

It’s important to note that the Amendment A ruling is not expected just yet. Even if the Supreme Court rescinds a ruling by Judge Klinger the judge shot down South Dakota’s voter-approved amendment in February, deeming recreational cannabis as “unconstitutional,” it’s unlikely that South Dakotans will be immediately allowed to start using recreational cannabis.

South Dakota’s medical cannabis program: Preliminary list of conditions 

Since July 1, residents of South Dakota have been legally allowed to obtain cannabis from legal sources in the state. However, in order to qualify as a medical cannabis patient, hopeful enrollees must first obtain a doctor’s recommendation confirming that they suffer from one (or more) of the qualifying conditions.

A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis,” is the legal definition for a “debilitating medical condition” in South Dakota.

According to the DOH, preliminary conditions for obtaining medical cannabis in South Dakota are as follows: 

  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS);
  • Positive test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”;
  • Crohn’s disease;
  • Cancer cases that are connected with chronic pain, cachexia, nausea, vomiting and/or wasting;
  • Epileptic seizures;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS);
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“This preliminary list of conditions meets the definition as passed by the voters, and is a result of feedback the department has already received. A process will be available for South Dakotans to petition to add more conditions to this list in the future,” said the Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon, during a discussion with reporters. 

Tribal nations embracing legal cannabis in South Dakota

Meanwhile, without the state’s approval, South Dakota’s first tribal cannabis dispensary has proceeded to open its doors. Situated 40 miles north from Sioux Falls, S.D. on the Flandreau Indian Reservation, the medical cannabis dispensary has been serving customers since July 1. 

Interestingly, anyone who holds a doctor’s recommendation can buy medical cannabis at the tribal pot store, which is being operated via FSST Pharms, LLC a Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe-owned company. Housed inside an old police station, the Native Nations cannabis dispensary aims to take advantage of nationwide cannabis acceptance. Moreover, the tribe is recognizing its sovereign nation’s legal rights by becoming the state’s first legal cannabis business.

“The grand opening of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s Native Nations Dispensary went very well, and customers have flooded the dispensary all day,” said the Flandreau Santee Sioux Attorney General, Seth Pearman, during an interview with Native News Online. “The Tribe is confident that the regulatory structure it put in place will create a safe product that will benefit customers.”