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Medical marijuana oversight committee formed

Brent Duerre

After 15 amendments, Senate Bill 134 passed both the House and Senate.

The bill aims to establish an oversight committee for the state’s medical marijuana program.

Sen. Helene Duhamel is the Republican party Majority Whip and a prime sponsor of the bill. She said the committee’s makeup better reflects what is seen in other states. She also applauded having two law enforcement positions on the committee.

“I brought this bill about concerns about the composition of the committee, initially, the makeup of law enforcement. But in the conference committee process we came to real oversight committee, a lean eleven members for true oversight of this new-to-South Dakota field of medical marijuana,” said Duhamel.

Earlier forms of the bill included as many 18 members on the committee. While many lawmakers felt they did not get the representation they desired on the committee, they compromised on the final 11 positions to get it passed.

Sen. Erin Tobin sponsored a separate medical marijuana bill, SB 1. She said the oversight committee developed by SB 134 will assist in creating positive future legislation for medical marijuana.

“The valuable thing that we have here now that we passed SB-1 is that we have more medical members that can look at research and look at how this medical program is actually playing out with patients," said Tobin. "And I think it is very valuable that we have nurses on that committee and so I really like this idea because nurses have traditionally been at the patient’s bedside and been a very good advocate for patients and we still have one patient on there now, so that’s a very good thing.”

The amended bill passed the senate in a 28 to five vote and now heads to the governor’s desk for her signature.

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.