South Dakota Now Approving Medical Cannabis Patients and Physicians

South Dakota started approving medical cannabis patient and physician applications but at a rate that could make it difficult for patients to connect with doctors registered for the program.

Full story after the jump.

South Dakota officials as of Tuesday had approved 306 patients for the state’s medical cannabis program along with 90 physicians to make patient recommendations, according to state Department of Health (DOH) data outlined by KELO. Health officials have also denied 45 applications by physicians seeking to participate in the program.

According to state rules, a physician is required to begin the process of applying for a medical cannabis card. First, patients must schedule an appointment with a physician who is licensed to prescribe medication and patients must meet in person with a physician with whom they have a ‘bona fide practitioner-patient relationship.’

DOH Content Developer and Web Strategist Jennifer Baker noted that the denied applications for physician accounts are usually patients inadvertently applying through the physician portal. It is unknown how many of the physician denials were doctors seeking program approval.

In all, there are 2,214 active physicians in the state and the 90 approved represent just 4.07% of those active doctors. Were medical cannabis sales to begin today, with a total South Dakota population estimate of 895,376, it would mean that there would currently only be one physician to recommend medical cannabis for every 9,948.6 South Dakotans, the report says. If Delaware’s medical cannabis patient rate per population were applied to South Dakota – Delaware’s population is similar to South Dakota’s – the 1.59% rate would mean 14,236 South Dakotans would be medical cannabis patients, and with just 90 doctors approved for the program, there would be just one physician for every 158.18 medical cannabis patients, according to KELO.

The state has so far approved 126 dispensary applications, 16 cultivation-only applications, 10 licenses allowing cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing, eight cultivation- and manufacture-only licenses, five for dispensaries and cultivation, and just one each for testing facilities and manufacturing-only.

Medical cannabis became legal in South Dakota on July 1 after being approved by voters in the 2020 General Election.

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