Medical marijuana expansion bill passes in the house

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) – By a vote of 36 to 32, Senate Bill 1 passed through the South Dakota House of Representatives on Monday.

This potential expanded access comes 853 days after South Dakotans voted to make medical marijuana legal in the state.

South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws has been advocating for this bill along its path through the legislature.

“Sometimes people use the pharmaceutical options and they just don’t work and we think cannabis should be there as a legal and safe option if a person and a healthcare provider decide it’s in their best interest,” Matthew Schweich said, the executive director of South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.

Those afflicted with cancer, epilepsy, MS, ALS, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, aids, and HIV would be eligible for medical marijuana cards if the bill competes it’s a journey into becoming law.

“Somebody with severe MS or epilepsy, who is suffering from really severe symptoms, should not be a criminal for using cannabis,” Schweich said.

One person that this expansion would directly impact is Becky Letsche.

“I served six years in the army as a combat medic. I was stationed at fort hood and I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 through 2011,” Letsche said.

During her service in Afghanistan, Becky was injured, two years after she came home she was medically retired and developed PTSD.

“I had tried several different therapies traditional therapies and medications, but they weren’t working. I was kind of at my wit’s end and I had heard from other veterans that have used medical marijuana and it was really helping them with their PTSD,” Letsche said.

Letsche decided to see for herself, and she said the results were life-changing.

“I was able to get off the dangerous medication, I was able to get off prescription narcotics for pain, and medical marijuana was helping me do that,” Letsche said.

Letsche testified in favor of SB 1 in front of the house and was able to speak with some lawmakers one on one after her testimony.

“A lot of the representatives said now that they’ve heard our stories that it changed their mind,” Letsche said.

The bill had already passed in the senate but will have to return because the house did pass a slightly amended version that removed glaucoma from this list of conditions.

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