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Medical Marijuana card sales exceed state predictions

A marijuana bud at a marijuana dispensary in Denver. Colorado, Oregon and Washington could become the first to legalize marijuana this fall.
Jeff Barnard
Marijuana grows in the home of two medical marijuana patients in Medford, Ore.

The South Dakota Medical Marijuana card program has nearly doubled in number of card holders since it began two years ago.

Despite the increased income the state received from card sales, some lawmakers worry the program is not monitored closely enough.

The Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee met Monday to solidify their board and discuss rules governing the state’s program.

Sen. Erin Tobin (R) was unanimously voted Chair of the committee with Rep. Roger DeGroot (R) nominated as Vice Chair.

The committee heard presentations by state agencies, medical marijuana industry representatives, and the public.

Jennifer Seale is the Medical Cannabis Program Administrator. She said participation in the program has surpassed what the state expected.

“The original projections were that by year three, we would be at 6,000 patient cards being issued in the state. We are at, at the end July 1, it was 11,437," Seale said. "We’re even higher than that now. We are probably closer to 12. So we have doubled the amount we were projecting to see in three years, within a year-and-a-half, two years."

The increased interest across the state to obtain medical marijuana cards has some lawmakers weary. Rep. Fred Deutsch voiced his concern to the commission.

He said pop-up clinics skirt the rule on patient and practitioner relationships and he wants to see it changed.

“I’ve heard that pop-up clinics employ doctors from other states. They help them get their South Dakota license, and they fly them up here. I mean, it must be fairly lucrative work. This would change how we look at the definition of the bonified practitioner-patient relationship,” said Deutsch.   

Next legislative session, lawmakers will likely look to the committee for their expertise on any medical marijuana-related bill.

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.