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Two bills restricting medical marijuana head to House floor

The House Health and Human Services committee passed two bills Tuesday restricting medical marijuana and how people can acquire medical cannabis cards.

House Bill 1172 requires medical assessments for medical cannabis cards to take place in licensed healthcare facilities. House Bill 1129 requires a doctor certify they have assessed a patient’s medical history before approving a medical cannabis card.

Both bills address “pop-up” clinics that issue cards outside of official healthcare facilities.

Proponents for the bills said these clinics have taken place in locations like bars, hotels, and strip clubs. They also called the safety and credibility of these clinics into question.

Rep. Fred Deutsch is prime sponsor of both bills. He said the bills would ensure people are getting medical cannabis cards from reputable sources.

"The intent of this is to lay out the steps that we believe are important for public safety to occur during an office visit when certifying a person for a psychoactive drug like medical marijuana," he said.

Deutsch added that these pop-up clinics are not covered in the original legislation.

“It’s the job of the legislature to protect South Dakotans. The voters never said to allow popup clinics, it was never part of the initiated measure,” he said.

Jeremiah Murphy, a lobbyist for the Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota, opposed both bills. He said they could force patients to obtain marijuana illegally.

"If you don't get a medical card, the alternative isn't abstinence," he said, "it's the black market."

Both bills now head to the House floor for consideration.

Jordan is a senior English and journalism major at SDSU in Brookings. She is from De Smet, South Dakota. She is based out of the Sioux Falls studio.