South Dakota has seen an increase in medical cannabis patient registrations as many individuals are obtaining their patient cards through “pop-up clinics.”

As of Oct. 24, there are 4,202 registered patients–a 125% increase from Aug. 1, which recorded 1,867 patients.

A state health official told lawmakers Oct. 25 that the rise in registered patients is due to individuals obtaining their cards through ‘pop-up clinics rather than typical medical providers, The Associated Press reported.

AP reported individuals go to a pop-up clinic and have a short consultation with a physician who then certifies if they have a qualifying condition for cannabis.

According to the news outlet, legislative committee members argue that consultations are not a long enough process to qualify patients, as sometimes they last under five minutes.

Melissa Mentele, a sponsor of the 2020 ballot initiative to legalize medical cannabis in South Dakota, said patients are using pop-up clinics due to the state’s health systems refusing to participate in the medical cannabis program, AP reported

Lawmakers on the committee also unanimously approved a bill proposed by the Department of Health (DOH), that would “list specific conditions that would qualify someone for a medical [cannabis] card, [and] strike a provision that allows residents to petition the [DOH] to add special medical conditions to the qualifying conditions,” AP reported. 

South Dakota voters approved medical and adult-use cannabis through ballot initiatives during the 2020 election; however, the adult-use measure was later struck down by the Supreme Court.

Now, voters will have a second chance at legalizing adult-use cannabis through a ballot initiative in the 2022 midterm election.

RELATED: 2022 Election Preview: South Dakota Voters Get Second Chance at Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization

“We’re confident we’re ahead, but that being said, it’s closer than we’re comfortable with, and we need to make sure our supporters show up and vote on election day,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director for the Marijuana Policy Project and deputy director for South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, told Cannabis Business Times. “Turnout is going to be a huge factor here.”

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