South Dakota Senate Approves Medical Marijuana ‘Guardrails’ For People On Probation And Parole - Read of Green
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South Dakota Senate Approves Medical Marijuana ‘Guardrails’ For People On Probation And Parole

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“I think granting judges some discretion with whether or not parolees and probationers have medical marijuana allows for really individualized health care, compassionate care and consideration of public safety concerns at the same time.”

By John Hult, South Dakota Searchlight

The state Senate endorsed a bill that would require parolees and probationers to get additional sign-offs from a health care practitioner to get a medical cannabis card.

Current law on medical cannabis has no prohibitions on access for people on probation or parole, even as steering clear of drugs and alcohol are often expectations for those serving out a sentence of supervision.

Senate Bill 191 wouldn’t bar the issuance of a medical cannabis card for a person on supervised release. It would instead require that the recommending practitioner certify that the drug is consistent with the patient’s care plan for a debilitating medical condition, that it’s reasonable based on the practitioner’s observations about the patient and that it’s a better option than alternative treatments. Those certifications would need to be delivered in some form to a court services officer or parole officer.

Sen. Jim Mehlhaff (R-Pierre) told the Senate that the state’s Unified Judicial System and Department of Corrections wanted some “guardrails” against abuse of the medical cannabis system by people under their supervision.

“They just want to have some level of comfort that the folks who are receiving medical marijuana certifications, that there is a bona fide, debilitating condition and that they’re receiving proper medical care,” Mehlhaff said.

The language that cleared the Senate on Monday afternoon was looser than it had been in the bill’s original version. As introduced last month, it would have banned the use of medical cannabis until the drug is approved for use nationally by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, essentially putting it off limits.

That version of the bill failed in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on February 5. Nine days later, it was reconsidered in light of its amended language and passed 4–3.

Mehlhaff and Sen. Erin Tobin (R-Winner) both served on the 2023 Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee. Tobin told the Senate on Monday she’d initially opposed the idea, as had most of that committee’s members. The adjusted language was the product of conversations with health care professionals, she said, and now represents a bill she supports.

“It’s important to make sure that we’re using this in the right patient population for the right reasons,” Tobin said. “I think granting judges some discretion with whether or not parolees and probationers have medical marijuana allows for really individualized health care, compassionate care and consideration of public safety concerns at the same time.”

SB 191 passed on a 29–4 vote and now goes to a House committee.

This story was first published by South Dakota Searchlight.

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Source: Marijuana Moment

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