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Bill codifying medical marijuana use advances

The House Health and Human Services committee passed a bill offering additional qualifying conditions for medical cannabis cards.

The bill would remove the state Department of Health from deciding which disorders can be added to the list of medical cannabis use.

Sen. Erin Tobin spearheaded Senate Bill 1.

She said the bill provides guard rails for current medical cannabis law.

“The Department of Health recommended to the oversight committee that we add conditions and turn over the condition adding process to the legislature. They came up with these conditions by looking at research in other states legislation and they presented SB 1 to the medical marijuana oversight committee and the committee passed this unanimously,” said Tobin.

The bill adds PTSD to the list of conditions providers can prescribe medical marijuana for.

Clint Wood is an Air Force veteran from Vermillion who served in Operation Desert Storm. He said medical cannabis saved his life.

“What this meant to me is cannabis slowed down the velocity of the water in that waterfall that I was attempting to surmount without causing me to suffer negative side effects. When coupled with PTSD therapy, cannabis allowed me to begin swimming up that terrible monument of fear and failure and begin to make the kind of progress in therapy that otherwise would have been impossible for me to achieve. I owe my life to the therapeutic benefits that cannabis can offer, when employed in a responsible manner and when coupled with the appropriate professional therapy,” said Wood.

Rep. Fred Deutsch opposed the bill. He said medical cannabis continues to lack scientific evidence.

“I am really challenged when we talk about research when it omits the science. When we just go out to other states and say, ‘well what have you done?’ and we make that assumption that they have looked at the science but we don’t know,” said Deutsch.

Proponents for the bill said providing research-based evidence of the benefits of cannabis is difficult because it cannot be studied at the federal level.

The bill passed the committee on an eight to five vote and now heads to the House floor for final consideration.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.