The Legislature’s marijuana panel heard yesterday that the Department of Health won’t start issuing medical marijuana permits to patients until November 18. The state’s delay in implementing the will of people irks me on principle, but not in practice: I plan to stay healthy and not need medical marijuana, but if my health or that of someone in my family changes and our doctor says pot will cure what ails us, I’ll just drive to North Dakota or Minnesota or any of the other 33 states where Freedom™ isn’t just a Newspeak campaign slogan and buy some herbal remedy.
But from the sounds of Yankton doctor and state medical association president Benjamin Aaker’s testimony to the pot committee yesterday, my South Dakota doctor may not be too eager to prescribe wacky weed:
“The research takes a lot of time and we are not there yet with marijuana, marijuana has some 400 different chemicals and we do believe there are some chemicals that are in that marijuana plant that are and can be beneficial to the health of patients who are suffering from afflictions but we also believe there are a number of chemicals in there that are harmful to patients as well,” Dr. Aaker said [Don Jorgensen, “There Could Be a Delay in Implementing Medical Marijuana,” KELO-TV, 2021.05.26].
SDSU pharmacy instructor Jeremy Daniel told the panel about some of the research, but he didn’t make it sound too great:
He listed six symptoms that people sometimes treat with marijuana. He said studies found the effectiveness was low for nausea and vomiting, low to moderate for appetite stimulation, somewhat low for glaucoma, moderate for seizures and epilepsy, high for pain relief, and varied for PTSD from effective after about a month to causing more problems after about four months [Bob Mercer, “Panel Digs into South Dakota’s Marijuana Laws,” KELO-TV, updated 2021.05.27].
It may take stronger research results than that to shake a pot prescription out of South Dakota’s doctors, says the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations:
…Sarah Aker, the association’s director for fiscal policy, later said physicians have expressed reluctance about signing the certification cards.
That’s because, under South Dakota law, they would be “stating that in the practitioner’s professional opinion the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of cannabis to treat or alleviate the patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptom associated with the debilitating medical condition” [Mercer, 2021.05.27].
Even when the state gets done dragging its feet and issues those medical marijuana cards, I won’t be rushing to get in line. Until I hear otherwise from the doctors, I’ll restrict my leafy green intake to romaine and spinach.