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State Delaying Medical Marijuana Cards; Doctors Not Eager to Prescribe

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.



  1. Richard Schriever 2021-05-27

    FWIW, my primary care physician way back when I was in high school (late 1960’s) proudly displayed his receipt for having paid the Federal marijuana tax in his exam room. The whole “we haven’t had tome to research thoroughly” BS is just that – IMO.

  2. Ryan 2021-05-27

    Not to worry, there are thousands of docs in this state and plenty of them understand and respect the medicinal benefit of the so-called “sticky icky.” Once July 1 rolls around, I expect there to be a lot of wild-west “recommendations” going around and those pesky police and prosecutors are going to have an interesting time navigating exactly what it looks like when people pass a law but the state legislature is too lazy to implement it. Buckle up.

  3. Eve Fisher 2021-05-27

    Kicking that can as far down the road as they possibly can, aren’t they?

  4. Porter Lansing 2021-05-27

    History Lesson …
    -Colorado had legalized medical marijuana for six years before the first Doctor risked his license by prescribing a medicine that is federally illegal. That Doctor had a bad reputation and had been excommunicated from his group of physicians, couldn’t get work, and turned to seeing a dozen patients a day, at $75 a pop. He certified over 95% as needing the medication. The other 5% were undercover agents from DEA.

    -I was bed ridden for two years with osteomyelitis and had level 8 of 10 pain.
    -Marijuana had no mitigating effect for pain relief.
    -It did, however take my mind off the misery and qualm thoughts of ending it all, which were foolish thoughts.
    -I did become Doctor induced addicted to oxycontin, the only pain meds that helped. I’d take pain pills for 6-8 weeks and then go through planned withdrawal for 3-4 weeks. The same withdrawal heroin addicts go through. Crying and climbing the walls for the first couple days. Then I’d be prescribed more pain meds and could at least sleep for another 6-8 weeks.
    -The second and third times through withdrawal were a little easier, since I knew what to expect.
    -From the day the infection was cured, the desire for opiates was gone. Mentally, the thought of getting high on morphine, heroin, or opiate based pills makes me cringe. I’d never ever do that again, unless the infection returned and I absolutely had no other choice.

  5. Dicta 2021-05-27

    I know you and I don’t get along well, Porter, but I want you to know that I’m sorry you went through that. I’m also glad you are better.

  6. Darrell Solberg 2021-05-27

    Why should we be surprised? The majority party in SD has no regard for the voters! How many of these has the legislature overturned? Now they are working hard to delay the Medical Marijuana bill, which in my mind means that they are attempting to find ways to overturn it!! Brings back memories of when I co-chaired (me a Democrat) with a Republican Lobbyist that helped put an amendment on the ballot for the voters of SD to vote on to create an ethics commission in SD, which by the way did pass with a majority voting for it!!! But you guessed it, the legislature’s majority party ONCE AGAIN WENT AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE!!! When will the voters start putting people and common before the “R” party?

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-05-27

    Gosh, I remember that sweet little bar in Vermillion listening to Todd Rundgren play after hours after his concert at school. People were medicating themselves because drinking hours were over. Must have been about 1973 or 74. It’s rather amazing that a drunk state like South Dakota is so against freedom. Even in Venice, the oldest city in America, the signs are everywhere. Come on all you libertarians or rather, Republicans in smoke only, where are you?

  8. Donald Pay 2021-05-27

    I understand the science behind Dr. Aaker’s statements. Some chemicals in pot may be beneficial for some ailments; other chemicals may be generally harmful. Dosing of all those chemicals is difficult to control if you are smoking pot. If you’re a doctor, it’s difficult to say you aren’t doing more damage and the benefit. That’s kind of why I don’t support “medical marijuana.” Let’s keep the science in medical science.

    The same issues come up with certain foods, with red wine, and with vitamin supplements, but we don’t prevent people from these products. We also don’t require a doctor’s authority or any sort of “passport.”

    Let’s just let people make their own decisions on pot, like we do with food.

  9. DaveFN 2021-05-27

    Heavy metals and hydrazines found in mushrooms, psoralens and other furocoumarin photosensitizers found in parsnips, biogenic amines that are precursors of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds, umbelliferone in celery found to be a mutagen in the Ames test, aflatoxins in peanuts, solanine in potatoes, hundreds of untested chemical flavor components in the common strawberry, the massive FDA ‘Generally Regarded As Safe” (GRAS) loophole for hundreds of herbal supplements of unknown provenance which often contain mildew and spores…

    By the time all 400 chemical components in marijuana or anything else have been tested individually in random controlled studies for safety let alone “therapeutic or palliative benefit,” we’ll be long in our graves.

    I’m no proponent of marijuana, medical or otherwise. Let’s not fool ourselves when it comes to what passes for half-truths and constitutes/ does not constitute convincing scientific testimony, however.

  10. Richard Schriever 2021-05-27

    Mark – that WAS 1973. Todd was hanging at our apartment – went shopping at Piggly Wiggly – cooked us dinner and washed the dishes. No pop diva there.

  11. John 2021-05-27

    If Dr Aaker’s ilk were in charge we wouldn’t have COVID vaccines for fear of the unknown.

    36 states cleared cannabis, the feds released cannabis for study, there are no deaths from overdoses – which is more than one can say about aspirin.

    Let’s not pretend SD doctors are at the forefront. The nation’s leading cardiologists hung up their stethoscopes 8 years ago for an iPhone with an app and a lead. Doctors here will clutch their museum pieces for 20 more years.

  12. Mark Anderson 2021-05-27

    Sounds great Richard, it was a great night all around, even if the USD crowd didn’t understand Rundgren playing recordings of himself playing all those parts in the first half of his concert. Dave Redfield a good So Dak boy did the same. Did you have anything to do with who USD brought in those years, there were some great concerts.

  13. leslie 2021-05-28

    Thinking about that “skunky smell” I have nothing to add, but wanted to mention the jist of a comment Mark made on an unrelated thread about the Rapid City meat packing plant on the creek in the Gap: “the odor of meat rendering in the heart of this beautiful little city”. Like rally promoters who “smell money” as the rest of us are subjected to the armed insurrection of prime summertime rally participants roaring about town.

    Anyway, i was struck walking the bikepath on a quiet rainy evening, listening to the grinding sound of the Cement Plant located in the heart of gorgeous west Rapid City. Near Story Book Island (I live east-side: a whole different city) I looked up for the source of the constant near-roar to notice the structure of the huge, expanding heavy industrial Cement Plant so ironically polluting the entire mountain-side of our town. Lien’s and Adelstein’s of course continue to add to the sound as they clear-cut, explode limestone ridges into fine dust and heavy-truck their gravel over every city street. The industries by and large avoid liability for the majority of their cost of doing business imposed on the residents of the city.

    Similarly, profits from pot will largely escape the effects that will be imposed on the rest of society. Rapid City: limited as it is, still a truly a beautiful place to live, seasonally, despite human abuse of every living thing and rock and soil.

    Just give us some time and it will become unrecognizable. For me that is the only reason to still live here, the patches of natural wilderness so accessible.

  14. Porter Lansing 2021-05-28

    Thanks, Ditca. I’m going to do a better job of getting along with you. Sorry if I offended you in any way.

    My story was 19 years ago and I’m not addicted to opiates. I guess that’s the secondary point of the story. Many think that a heroin/opiate addiction is something you live with forever. I can testify that quitting tobacco was and is much harder. It’s been 14 years for me. Not one puff.

    The main point of my post is this and it may irritate some but that’s never stopped me, before. #grins

    Medical marijuana is just a front for people to get legal weed. Pot doesn’t help pain. It does however help anxiety, eases the boredom of living in SD, and makes users cautious instead of foolhardy, like booze does.

    However, it ain’t gonna happen in your state. It’s just too much freedom and too much fun to be allowed.

  15. Arlo Blundt 2021-05-28

    Well…for all the chemicals, I think marijuana is probably safer for a person to smoke and eat than, say, lunch meat. Let’s say Cotto Salami or Olive Loaf. In my experience with it 30 years ago, I found pot rather benign. Olive Loaf can keep you up all night.

  16. Porter Lansing 2021-05-29

    Where’s Miranda Gohn?
    She’s always ready to post false information about marijuana from the Colorado Christian University study:

    e.g. – For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent approximately $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization.

    Yearly cost-estimates for marijuana users: $2,200 for heavy users, $1,250 for moderate users, $650 for light users

    Costs related to the healthcare system and from high school drop-outs are the largest cost contributors

  17. mike from iowa 2021-05-30

    Curious side note to marijuana legalization, North Carolina magat Virginia Foxx sits on congressional board overseeing pot. She has been anti-legalization for years, but has been buying hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks from various pot groups just before votes come up in Congress.

    Sounds like insider trading, but I am sure magats won’t prosecute her or any other magat for any other crime.

  18. Irwin M. Fletcher 2021-06-05

    “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”


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