Longtime pot opponent South Dakota State Representative Fred Deutsch (R-Florence) repeatedly worked hard to narrow the state’s medical cannabis system as much as possible, and now aims to test the system after getting a card himself.
Who is this guy? Deutsch urged his fellow representatives to vote against a bill adding several qualifying conditions to the state’s medical cannabis program, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and fought against other provisions like popup clinics. Deutsch claimed that studies show cannabis leads to an uptick in suicide.
After a few past attempts to limit the state’s program failed, the representative wants to test the state medical cannabis system to see if he can find any flaws. Deutsch told The Dakota Scout that he obtained a South Dakota medical cannabis card, but not to buy cannabis.
KOTA reports that in an earlier interview, the Tea Party Republican expressed some of his concerns over the details of the state’s medical cannabis system.
“States are called the laboratories of democracy,” Deutsch said. So, each laboratory we can see the kinds of outcomes they’ve attained from the laws they’ve written.”
He continued, “Doctors can make a hell of a lot of money just opening up their ‘Doc in a Box Shop,’ and that concerns me. That should concern everybody. I mean, come on. If we’re talking about medical marijuana, we should allow people that really need it to have access to it, and we should prevent people that don’t need it from getting access to it as well.”
Deustch also said that he aims to eliminate home growing altogether and only allow dispensaries to distribute, where cannabis can be tested and approved, to ensure that the black market is kept under control.
The vast majority of dispensaries—medical and adult-use—are checking patrons for ID. Data published in the journal Addictive Behaviors that adult-use retailers across five U.S. cities were in strict compliance with laws requiring patrons to show identification and proof of legal age.
South Dakota’s Road to Medical Cannabis
South Dakota stands out among other states’ because its adult-use cannabis law was approved and then overturned. South Dakota legalized cannabis for medical use in 2021, but cannabis can only be purchased by patients with medical cannabis cards.
Despite voting to approve a challenged adult-use cannabis bill two years earlier, for the second time, in 2022, voters in South Dakota rejected a measure to legalize adult-use cannabis.
“The voters said yes to establishing a medical marijuana system, and they said no to establishing a recreational marijuana system,” Deutsch said at the time.
In 2020, the South Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 26 and approved medical cannabis with 69% of voters in favor of the measure. A majority of voters in South Dakota also approved a ballot measure to legalize adult-use cannabis. Constitutional Amendment A was approved with 54% of the vote, according to election records. However, a lawsuit filed last year by Gov. Kristi Noem and two highway patrol officers prevented the bill approved by voters from ever seeing the light of day. The South Dakota Supreme Court ruled on Nov 24, 2021, that the measure couldn’t be implemented because it violated a requirement that constitutional amendments deal with just one subject.
Since then, Deutsch has been working to narrow the scope of the state’s medical cannabis program.
Deutsch was prime sponsor of four medical cannabis bills seeking to add regulations and personally led the fight against popup clinics. But last February, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee rejected HB1129 and HB1172.
Benjamin M. Adams is Staff Writer at High Times, and has written for Vice, Forbes, HuffPost, The Advocate, Culture, and many other publications. He holds a Bachelor of Communication from Southern New Hampshire University.