PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota is just a week away from legalizing medical marijuana. Multiple state agencies are still working to build the framework of the program.
“On July 1st, IM 26 becomes law, essentially what that means is that the timeline starts for implementation of the program,” Governor Noem told KELOLAND News.
Governor Kristi Noem says the state will have all of the framework needed to start the state’s medical marijuana program by the deadlines laid out in IM 26.
“The vendor program the certification program, feedback and input by stakeholders is October 29th. So, that’s this time period that I think people are getting confused over, they actually voted for this time frame. This is what they said they wanted,” Noem said.
It also includes a November 18th deadline for the state to begin issuing medical marijuana cards to patients.
“We could possibly put forward the cards earlier, but the way that this is laid out is a very tight time frame. Its unprecedented to stand up a program this quickly,” Noem continued.
“Other states have been able to implement in 6 to 9 months, just based off of very wide open bills that had no structure in them, no state has ever had anything so structured handed to them ready to go. So we could have been ready July 1st,” Melissa Mentele said.
Melissa Mentele, the Executive Director of New Approach South Dakota, and Author of IM 26 says the October and November deadlines were intended as a grace period.
“It was to give the state a moment to breathe through the shock of passage,” Mentele said.
Even though the implementation deadlines are legally later, Mentele says the state could have had the program ready next week.
“They knew in November that it passed, they could have immediately started working on implementation rather than HB1100 in their attempt to stop IM26 implementation,” said Mentele.
“As soon as the ballot measure passed our agency started working on it, knowing that it passed and that it was going to become law,” Governor Noem said. “Proposed a couple changes, none of those changes passed, so we fully went forward with the law as it was on the ballot.
Bridget Bennett: Would you agree that implementing this program began the day that voters said ‘this is what we want?’
Governor Noem: Absolutely.
Bridget Bennett: The time frame was really November 3rd when voters approved the bill until November 18th of this year? So more than a year to implement the program.
Governor Noem: Correct.
Governor Noem says the state is working toward the October and November deadline in an effort to make sure south Dakota’s medical marijuana program is implemented safely.
“IM 26 will be law on July 1st, it will be implemented on time, we are following the law, but we are working to make sure that it’s a responsible program. That truly the intent was to get relief to medical patients. That is our goal is to make sure it has integrity, that its accountable and that people truly understand how the program works,” Governor Noem said.
The state is holding two telephone town halls to hear input from the public. They’ll take place on Monday June 28th at 5 and 6:30 p.m. central time — you must register online to participate.