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South Dakota surpasses 10,000 medical marijuana cards

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A year and a half after issuing its first medical marijuana card, the state of South Dakota has hit a major milestone: 10,000 medical cards issued.

With 10,019 registered medical cards currently, KELOLAND News reached out to the Department of Health (DOH), submitting written question to ask about the milestone and the ways in which the program has grown.

These questions were answered by new Medical Cannabis Administrator Jennifer Seale, whose answers have been copied below in their entirety.

KELOLAND’s Jacob Newton: “It’s been around a year and a half since the state issued its first medical card. What has the process been like for the DOH as it has worked to assign a total of 10,000 cards?”

Seale: “Standing up a new industry and a new program has been very resource intense. Our staff have worked tirelessly to ensure patient access while building a safe and effective program.  Throughout the process we have engaged stakeholders and worked closely with them on program implementation and administrative rules.”

Newton: “What have been the major challenges in providing patients in the state with their cards?”

Seale: “We met the statutory timeframe and continue to make system enhancements. Also, because this was a new program, it requires a substantial amount of education and outreach to patients and other stakeholders regarding the program and the process to obtain a medical card.”

Newton: “We’ve heard a lot of discourse in the past year about the process through which patients get their cards, mostly focusing on the initial steps revolving around patient visits with their provider, and the provider’s recommendation. How does the process work within the DOH once the physician has made their recommendation to the state?”

Seale: “Once the practitioner completes a certification in the system, the patient receives an email and he/she must register and pay the patient card fee. The Department verifies the application is complete and issues a medical cannabis registration card to the patient.”

Newton: “When we look at 10,000 cards, that is a clear milestone. What does it mean to the DOH to hit that mark, and how does it feel?”

Seale: “The department has a small team of dedicated individuals who have continued to meet programmatic and administrative enhancements. They have done a remarkable job on short timelines and standing up a statewide program in its infancy.”

Newton: “Looking past 10,000 cards, what are the goals of the DOH as the system surrounding medical cannabis continues to grow?”

Seale: “As the industry grows so does our program experience. Our goal continues to be to operate an accessible, safe and effective program continuing to take into account stakeholder feedback and learning from our experience to improve/enhance the program. We hope to continue to make system enhancements.”

Seale is the third administrator of the Medical Cannabis Program, following Chris Qualm, who followed Geno Adams.

According to the DOH, Seale has worked for the state for almost 22 years, most recently as Health Services Administrator for Correctional Health at the South Dakota Women’s Prison. She is a licensed RN with her background in direct patient care, medical/mental health clinic and program administration and correctional health nursing.

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