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Republicans Replace Marijuana Advocate with More Amenable Fort Pierre Retiree on Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee

The Legislature’s Executive Board held a quick teleconference this morning to finish its work of booting dedicated marijuana advocates off the Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee.

On May 19 the E-Board appointed new MMOC members based on the new membership parameters set by 2023 Senate Bill 134. They removed most of the previous members, including Melissa Mentele of Emery, who held one of the original three patient seats on the MMOC but is also a long-standing promoter of cannabis ballot measures and one of the principals of Worthing medical marijuana business 605 Cannabis Inc. The E-Board kept Mentele’s 605 Cannabis honcho and pro-pot campaigner Elizabeth Tiger of Spearfish in the MMOC’s only remaining patient seat.

But today, the board booted Tiger and gave her seat to retired school administrator Brian Doherty of Pierre, someone the Republican leaders on the E-Board find more suitable:

House Republican leader Will Mortenson of Pierre nominated Doherty to take Tiger’s spot.…

“He’s very well qualified,” Mortenson said.

Republican Senator Lee Schoenbeck agreed.

“I think this is a good pick. We didn’t have any really true just-patient applicant. To me he’s the perfect pick,” Schoenbeck said.

…Mortenson said he had encouraged Doherty to apply for a patient representative slot on the original panel and told about their recent conversation. Mortenson agreed with Schoenbeck that none of the other applicants fit the pure definition of a qualifying patient [Bob Mercer, “Doherty Replaces Tiger on Medical Marijuana Panel,” KELO-TV, 2023.05.30].

The Republicans can make a reasonable case that Doherty speaks on the MMOC solely as a patient and not an entrepreneur who may make money on medical cannabis. But Doherty will also likely create less conflict for Schoenbeck, Mortenson, and other Republican leaders who want to keep a tight leash on marijuana and would rather not deal with experienced pro-marijuana policy advocates overseeing medical marijuana in South Dakota.


  1. John 2023-05-30 20:45

    So much for a Lincoln-inspired “team of ravels”, a “big tent”. They are small people, with small ideas, and smaller openness.
    Rephrased, if we’re all thinking alike, then is anyone really thinking?

  2. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-30 20:50

    The fix is in. Who knows what the final, Republican approved outcome will be?? Follow the money.

  3. Donald Pay 2023-05-30 21:52

    I’m not an imbiber, but those who are should want a government bureaucracy small enough to burn up in a joint. Call medical marijuana “ivermectin” and you’ll have the poop for brains crowd most of that BS committee toking up a storm. Not until then, do it differently. Of course cannabis has medical uses. but why go through this government b.s. Just buy weed from the local dealer, or grow it yourself. It’s cheaper that way and the state gets no cut.

  4. Mike Lee Zitterich 2023-05-30 23:40

    I will work to begin the march to petition to get this Proposed Amendment on the Ballot for 2026, I do not plan on getting it on the 2024 ballot, I want to work the 689 precincts, hoping to educate, and inform people first, rallying for strong support for the ’26 Mid-Terms.

    Help me push for this Amendment, to add to Article 6:

    Article 6, Section 30 – The Right To Seed, Plant, Grow, Harvest, to Use Cannabis – Recreational and Medical Use –
    All Citizens of this State shall have the right to plant, seed, grow, and harvest Cannabis within this state, and no person shall violate that protected right by imposing a rule, code, or regulation that harms a person’s ability to transact with others the ability to purchase cannabis seeds, to plant, to grow, to distribute, other than to regulate the commercial activity thereof. No government entity shall make nor pass a law or code that substantially harms the free market will of the people, nor subject them to a fine, penalty, sanction less for violations of statute where the government has the requirement to protect the health and public safety, and property rights of another person.

    It is simple, short, and constitutional, as it simply protects the right to do something, allowing the PEOPLE and their Leiglsature to regulate it.

  5. P. Aitch 2023-05-31 05:25

    It “just” weed. Where I live it’s as passé as a twelve pack of Michelob Ultra.
    If you choose to allow your “common folk” lawmakers to decide your life decisions you’ll continue to be continually disappointed.
    The pertinent question is, “Why do I live in South Dakota when Minnesota or Colorado are much more welcoming to me?”
    Is the real answer “Because my stupid stubbornness was ingrained in me by my father?”

  6. John 2023-05-31 07:20

    “rivals”, good grief.

  7. larry kurtz 2023-05-31 07:54

    The former chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party is principal of Dakota Health and Wellness, awarded a cannabis cultivation permit in Union County on 4/20 of last year, no less. By all appearances Dan Lederman could use a little health and wellness.

  8. larry kurtz 2023-05-31 14:55

    If the Neanderthal South Dakota Legislature had any integrity or ethics (they don’t) they would empower the tribal nations trapped in South Dakota to be the sole cannabis industry producers in the state (they won’t).

  9. larry kurtz 2023-05-31 21:15

    Republicans are inept at adjudicating civil liberties by design; it’s just that simple.

  10. grudznick 2023-05-31 21:33

    Lar, you know I have chastised you before about how the free market is the free market, and here in South Dakota we don’t pick winners and losers. Them who work harder do better. You see this when you come back to roam. It’s either “demon weed selling for all,” or “demon weed selling for none,” and grudznick is for the “none” piece. We don’t need to rot the brains of more children of all ilk.

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