South Dakota
Last Update: September 11, 2014

No sensible marijuana policies debated this session

In 2014, no marijuana policy reform was proposed at all in the South Dakota Legislature. Last year, lawmakers in Pierre considered one proposal to create a legal defense for medical cannabis patients and another to reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana from a Class 1 to a Class 2 misdemeanor. Unfortunately, neither advanced past committee.

In 2012, there were 2,297 arrests for marijuana possession in South Dakota, and 127 arrests for marijuana sales. Possession of just a small amount of marijuana in the state carries a potential penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine! Even more alarmingly, a recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that South Dakota was among the top 10 states with the largest racial disparities in marijuana possession arrest rates. Despite people of all races using marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in South Dakota are nearly 4.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Will next year be the year sensible marijuana policy reform is brought to South Dakota? Please ask your legislators to stand up for patients and to support imposing a civil fine — not possible jail time — on simple possession of marijuana. You can also ask them to support a new, more sensible approach to marijuana by legalizing, regulating, and taxing it like alcohol for adults’ use.

Can medical marijuana help you?

In order to pass medical marijuana legislation, we need to hear from patients who could benefit (or are already benefiting) from medical marijuana. If you are a patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, or if you know somebody who might benefit from medical marijuana, please contact MPP at to find out how you can help. Please include your nine-digit zip code or your address, so we can figure out who your state legislators are.

Additionally, if you are a medical professional, law enforcement officer, or a member of the clergy, your help could be particularly valuable. If you would like to volunteer to help with this effort, please email

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