PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) – As required by IM 26, the South Dakota Legislature has appointed a fourteen member board to oversee the legalization of medical marijuana.
Members of the board come from a variety of professions, all of which will have a hand in the ability of the state to successfully stand up a medical marijuana program.
Those professions include, healthcare workers, law enforcement officers, lawmakers, state government officials, and potential medical marijuana patients.
Speaker Spencer Gosch (R- Glenham), along with other legislative Executive Board members, appointed those board members.
“You obviously don’t want someone leaning one way or another when it comes to an initiative being voted on,” Gosch said. “If you have an objective panel, they can do the right job without their judgement being clouded by any particular issues.”
However, one appointment in particular raised the eyebrows of many IM 26 advocates.
By a narrow margin, members of the legislative executive board opted to put a pharmacist, Eric Grocott of Salem, on the board, as opposed to Kittrick Jeffries of South Dakota, a medical marijuana consultant.
Proponents argue that pharmaceuticals and medical marijuana are in direct competition with each other.
Grocott did not respond to an interview request.
“The idea behind a pharmacist is we are talking about medicine, right?” Gosch asked. “It is an easy decision when we are talking about medical marijuana, and the distribution thereof in the state of South Dakota. Who better than an objective, intelligent, well-informed pharmacist who is already up to speed with our current laws?”
Despite that, lawmakers on the newly appointed board hope to continue to move the conversation on the overwhelmingly approved issue along.
“It is something that the people obviously wanted, and some people have dragged their feet on this… opponents of it,” said State Sen. Erin Tobin (R- Winner). Tobin is the chair of the committee. “What I am excited to see, is that I believe the medication could be beneficial to some of these patients.”
The board will be working against the clock, as medical marijuana is set to become legal on July 1st, and the Department of Health intends to issue ID cards before the end of the year.
Members of the “Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee”
Chair: State Sen. Erin Tobin (R-Winner)
Vice Chair: State Rep. Ernie Otten (R-Tea)
Pierre Police Captain Bryan Walz
Mobridge Police Chief Shawn Madison
South Dakota Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon
Pharmacist Eric Grocott
IM 26 Advocate Melissa Mentele
Division of Criminal Investigation Assistant Dir. Brian Zeeb
Eligible Patient Brian Doherty
Dr. Christopher Dietrich
State Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt (R-Sioux Falls) in her capacity as a nurse
605 Cannabis Elizabeth Tiger
Semka Sciences Shon Van Hulzon