Medical Marijuana

Marijuana leaf isolated on white with bottles of cannabis oils and a stethoscope behind it.South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) 34-20G permits medical cannabis, also referred to as medical marijuana, for patients who experience a debilitating medical condition and are certified by a physician that medical cannabis will help alleviate their condition.

Brookings Health System’s Medical Cannabis Policy

The South Dakota Department of Health allows each medical entity in the state to determine how it will handle medical cannabis therapy.

At this time, Brookings Health System is not allowing medical cannabis use in any of its facilities until there is further clarification from the federal government.

On the federal level, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved a marketing application for any marijuana product for any clinical indication. As such, both the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and FDA have concluded that marijuana is not federally approved for medical use or treatment. Because of this, the DEA has stipulated that medical facilities who allow medical cannabis therapy risk losing payment for care they provide to patients on Medicare and Medicaid or being expelled from federal programs they participate in.

Due to federal stipulations at this time, patients who are permitted to possess medical cannabis will be asked to remove the medical cannabis from any Brookings Health System facility and refrain from its use during their care. Alternative therapy options will be offered to nursing home residents and patients who stay on an inpatient basis and rely on medical cannabis therapeutics.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Marijuana

According to South Dakota law, a physician must have an ongoing, bona fide practitioner-patient relationship with a patient and be a part of the patient’s care team in order to certify the person has a condition that qualifies for medicinal marijuana and could benefit from medical marijuana therapy. As such, emergency room and hospitalist physicians employed by Brookings Health System are not allowed to certify conditions since they do not have ongoing, established relationships with patients.

In addition, South Dakota law states that certifying medical specialists must hold a doctor of medicine (MD) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree. Midlevel providers such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants are not able to certify medical cannabis conditions. This prevents Brookings Health System’s providers at our clinics in Arlington, Volga and White from certifying conditions even though they have an ongoing, established relationship with patients.

First, a physician who has a bona fide, ongoing practitioner-patient relationship with a patient must certify in writing that a patient has a qualifying medical condition and could receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from medical cannabis. This may be a primary care provider with an MD or DO degree.

That certification will be filed with the State of South Dakota. The patient can then apply for a registry identification card. The patient will then receive their registry identification card from the state which will make them able to purchase medical cannabis therapeutics from a registered medical cannabis dispensary.

The South Dakota Department of Health will formally announce the process to obtain medical cards by Oct. 29, 2021. In addition, the state must establish rules for the issuance of registry identification cards no later than Nov. 18, 2021.

To hold a registry identification card, a patient must be diagnosed with a debilitating disease that produces one of the following:

  • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • Severe, debilitating pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, specific debilitating conditions include:

  • AIDS and HIV
  • ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Cancer associated with severe or chronic pain, nausea or severe vomiting, or cachexia or severe wasting
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Neither private insurers nor government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are required to cover medical cannabis. Contact your individual insurance plan for information specific to your policy.

Qualifying patients under 18 years of age may use medical cannabis therapy if:

  • Permission is granted by a parent or legal guardian
  • The certifying physician has explained the risks and benefits
  • A parent or legal guardian must agree in writing to allow the patient to use medical cannabis
  • A parent or legal guardian must serve as designated care giver and control the use of medical cannabis