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Senate Health and Human Services kills 2 medical marijuana bills

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The legislative committee has stopped a pair of medical marijuana bills in their tracks while amending a third.

Two medical marijuana bills that had previous success in the House were rejected by the Senate Health and Human Services committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 82 aimed to modify practitioner-patient relationship by defining a bona fide relationship before issuing a medical cannabis card.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Jim Mehlhaff. He said current law is not doing enough.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had these pop-up clinics that violate the current law. They do it because the current law doesn’t have any teeth in it and it is not the will of the people, what has been going on," said Mehlhaff. "So this bill is designed to clarify the process that a practitioner must go through to certify a patient for medical marijuana, and it provides a penalty for when they don’t.” 

The committee rejected it in a five to two vote. Committee member Sen. Tim Reed spoke on the motion to dismiss the bill.

“The idea of this is supposed to make it accessible. I think when you talk about the will of the people, that is, it is accessible. That’s one thing we have to make sure is that this continues to be accessible. Will our laws be perfect? No. We’ve done a lot of good work this year, good work has been done for the past two years, this is the third year to continue to work on it," said Reed. "And so, for those reason, I think we have to continue to work on this. But, I think this bill will create access problems for the people of South Dakota.” 

The committee also voted in favor of killing House Bill 1036. The bill would have required medical cannabis dispensaries to post a notice that being a medical marijuana card holder disqualifies you from buying or owning a firearm.

House Bill 1024 was the only medical marijuana bill to make it out of the committee. It initially required users to sign a federal firearm restriction notice on state medical marijuana forms. The committee amended that to checking a box rather than requiring a signature.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor for 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.