South Dakota Senate Committee Debates Medical Cannabis Bills

Published on: 

Bills placed before the South Dakota Senate Health and Human Services Committee proposed changes to the state’s medical cannabis program.

Several recently debated bills for 2024 concerned South Dakota’s new medical cannabis laws, patients, and regulations (1). One bill, Senate Bill 82, would have required patients seeking a medical cannabis card to obtain one through a primary care provider (PCP) only and would have defined what a “primary care provider” could be (1). Medical cannabis was approved by voters in the state in 2020 (1).

Senator Jim Mehlhaff, sponsor of SB 82, argued that the bill would have supported the 2020 measure that legalized medical cannabis, which required a “bona-fide doctor-patient relationship” be established before a patient is approved for medical cannabis (1). Supporters of the bill also argued that the number of medical cannabis cards has increased more than expected, possibly due to people seeking cannabis for other uses (1). “The people of South Dakota did indeed vote for medical marijuana to be law,” stated lobbyist Dr. Tamara Grove (1). “What they did not vote for is recreational marijuana.”


Opponents to the bill argued that it would create barriers to access, especially for those who do not have a primary care provider or has one that does not provide medical cannabis recommendations (1). Furthermore, they argued, patients are not required to have a PCP for other medications and no evidence of widespread distribution of medical cannabis cards to unqualified patients was provided (1). “Senate Bill 82 was absolutely the most critical threat out of what’s out there,” stated lobbyist Jeremiah Murphy in an interview (1). “They got a lot of feedback from patients on that one.”

SB 82 was not approved, but SB71 and SB 43 both passed and are headed to the House Health and Human Services Committee (1,2). SB 71 enables law enforcement to investigate medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation operations; previously, only the Department of Health was authorized for this, as a way to enable the newly established industry to grow (1,2). With SB 43, the fee for a dispensary license increases to $14,000 and allows the Department of Health to revoke licenses of dispensaries with repeat failures to adhere to regulations (1).


  1. Hult, J. “critical threat” to medical marijuana falls as lawmakers consider nine cannabis bills (accessed Jan 25, 2024).
  2. Heemstra, J. Move to change South Dakota’s medical marijuana laws momentarily gets slowed down (accessed Jan 25, 2024).