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Medical marijuana committee contemplates upcoming legislative session


The state Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee met to discuss concerns over patient and doctor relationship and current issues within the state’s medical marijuana program.

The committee heard from multiple stakeholders on issues involving medical marijuana. One of these suggestions came from a higher education institution.

Benjamin Valdez is the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southeast Technical College. He proposed that all medical dispensary workers gain a certification.

“If we are to ensure the safety of the citizens of South Dakota, and of this narcotic as it is begin dispensed in the form of medication, we are advocating that we look at some form of education for these individuals,” said Valdez.

He said his proposal includes higher education courses in state medical marijuana laws, pharmacology, dispensing compliance, math, English and an industry internship.

Erin Tobin is the Chair of the Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee. She expressed interest in learning more about the idea.

“I have a lot of questions surrounding this, who would create this, who came up with the criteria for all of this, and it seems like a lot of credits in one semester, so, I just have a lot of questions surrounding that,” said Tobin.  

A separate issue offered by industry leaders was the inefficiency of the state’s current system of sending medical marijuana patient cards in the mail.

Kittrick Jefferies is the founder and CEO of Puffy’s dispensaryin Rapid City. He said the current state medical card system is failing patients.

“They come in virtually everyday. There is a lapse in time window where it takes time to mail that card from the department to the patient. So, there has been some conversations where patients will come in when their card is about to expire and stock up," said Jefferies. "Knowing that it could be a month until they get their next renewal card, because they can not physically shop with us without that little piece of plastic.”   

Peter Dikun, owner of Flower Shop Dispensary in Sioux Falls, echoed Jefferies concerns, saying other states use virtual patient cards which allows for little to no laps in medical coverage.

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.