K-12 students in South Dakota’s public schools who are cardholders with a practitioner’s recommendations to use medical cannabis will be able to access the drug in schools this year with the help of registered designated caregivers.
Rules for medical cannabis and schools passed Monday morning by five lawmakers — Representatives Ryan Cwach, Jon Hansen, Kevin Jensen and Senators Jean Hunhoff and Timothy Johns — on the interim rules review committee. Sen. Troy Heinert was not present during the vote at the meeting.
The passage of the rules follows a months-long process to finalize the rules for schools after medical marijuana became legal under Initiated Measure 26 on July 1.
First, the South Dakota Board of Education Standards passed a draft of rules in mid-May, which then went to the committee in June. The committee asked for some revisions, like limiting the rule to only public schools. The board then revised rules to match lawmakers’ wishes earlier this month.
See the timeline:
The rules take effect on the first day of the new school year and apply only to students. Teachers and other school staff will be subject to the South Dakota Department of Health’s rules, which aren’t finalized yet.
What are the rules for students who have a medical marijuana card?
Public school districts may provide storage or administer medical cannabis to a student, and school personnel may volunteer to store and administer medical cannabis in a non-smokable form to any student cardholder.
Nothing in the rules require school personnel to administer medical cannabis, though.
Parents or legal guardians of student cardholders must notify the school district before any medical cannabis is administered on or in school property — defined as school premises, vehicles or buildings used or leased for school functions — or at school-sponsored activities.
Students may not possess or self-administer medical cannabis on or in school property, or at school-sponsored activities. Only their designated caregiver can possess or administer medical cannabis to the student or students. This rule also applies to students age 18 or older.
Administration of medical cannabis cannot be in a manner that creates disruption to the educational environment or causes exposure to other students.
School districts don’t have to comply with the rule, though, if the district posts on its website in a conspicuous place a statement regarding its decision not to comply with the rules, and if the district can reasonably demonstrate it will lose or has lost federal funding as a result of complying with the rules.
No school in states where medical cannabis is legal is known to have lost federal funding as a result of allowing students access to medical cannabis, though, according to past Argus Leader reports and DOE comments from the June meeting.
The rules also set parameters for student participation in school-sponsored activities or educational tasks that may put the student or others in an unsafe environment or potentially cause disruption.
School boards will work to enact these rules and/or establish their own policies in the coming weeks before their school year starts, Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson said in the committee meeting.
The sole lawmaker question in the committee meeting came from Rep. Jensen, who asked what will happen to the process if there’s no identification registry ready from the South Dakota Department of Health, the entity responsible for issuing medical cannabis cards.
Sanderson explained IM 26 requires policy is in place for public schools by the first day of school this fall, but at the same time, DOH officials have said state-issued cards may not be sent to qualifying patients until as late as Nov. 18.
In other words, school policy will be in place, but a gap with legal cards will exist until the DOH system is fully up and running.
“These are new waters for South Dakota,” Sen. Hunhoff said after motioning to pass the rules. “I beg patience for everyone… it will be done, and this is just part of the process.”
No opponents spoke during the committee meeting, and there was no public comment.
See the rules below: