The South Dakota Board of Education Standards unanimously adopted new rules on Monday that establish guidelines for the use of medical cannabis in South Dakota schools. The move was prompted by the passage of Initiated Measure 26 (IM 26), a ballot proposition that legalizes medical marijuana in South Dakota, in last November’s general election.
The rules govern the administration of medical cannabis in South Dakota’s public and private elementary, middle, and high schools. The nine-page document includes provisions for the administration of medical cannabis to students, the allowable forms of medical cannabis, and notification requirements. The approved rules also delineate the responsibilities and rights of students, caregivers, volunteers, and school staff in relation to the administration of medical cannabis to students in schools.
South Dakota Board of Education Standards President Jacqueline Sly noted that because of the complexity of the issue, the new rules are subject to future amendments.
“Just like any other rules we put in place, sometimes we miss things or we have to adjust things. I would say we have the ability to do that (here),” said Sly. “I would also say that we need to give it a fair shake, and kind of work out the kinks, because some of that can be worked out at the local levels.”
Diane Roy, general counsel to the state Department of Education, agreed with Sly, noting that implementing IM 26 will be uncharted territory for school districts and administrators. As the legislation is rolled out across the state, school officials will have to remain flexible as policies governing medical marijuana evolve.
“I believe that it is important for us to realize that these are still relatively new laws for schools, and there will likely be changes brought to these laws by amendments,” said Roy. “School districts across the state will experience the real life implementation of laws and rules.”
Rules For Medical Cannabis In South Dakota Schools Approved Without Opposition
There was no vocal opposition to the proposed rules at Monday’s meeting of the board, according to media reports. However, some supporters of the new policy said that there are still questions about some of the details, particularly legal issues.
“Our biggest concern was the distribution and possession in the schools, and the liability, with the chance something goes amiss if we are handling and distributing medical marijuana,” said Rob Monson, executive director for School Administrators of South Dakota. “We are grateful that in the rules, those are spelled out very carefully.”
Wade Pogany, the executive director for the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, told the state board that he was in favor of the proposed rules for medical cannabis In South Dakota schools, and offered the help of his organization to school districts as they draft their local policies.
“We call this filling in the gaps,” Pogany said. ”You folks are in charge of the what. We’ll help with the how.”
“There is really a balance between what IM 26 says, and then how you get that into the schools,” Pogany added.
Sly noted that the newly approved rules for medical cannabis in South Dakota schools have the “wiggle room” necessary for school districts to create policies that work for their individual situation, saying “we just need that flexibility within our state because we have so many different needs and the support we have available in our schools.”
The South Dakota Department of Health is also establishing rules to implement IM 26, including drafting the regulations to govern the production and distribution of medical cannabis and the requirements patients must fulfill to receive a doctor’s recommendation and a state medical marijuana identification card.
South Dakota voters approved IM 26 in the November general election with nearly 70% of the vote. Voters also approved a ballot measure to legalize cannabis for adult use, but that initiative was later struck down by a circuit court judge. The case was appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in the suit last month.
A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based freelance writer covering cannabis news, business, and culture.