South Dakota
Last Update: February 28, 2014

Sensible marijuana policies debated last session

South Dakota’s 2013 legislative session saw lawmakers in Pierre consider two proposals to reform marijuana polices in the Mount Rushmore State. Unfortunately, neither advanced past committee.

HB 1227, introduced by Rep. Dan Kaiser and Sen. Craig Tieszen, sought to create a medical marijuana defense for marijuana possession or use. Unfortunately, the legislature failed to act on the bill before it adjourned, leaving patients in jeopardy.

In addition to the medical defense, SB 221, introduced by Sen. Jim Bradford and Rep. Betty Olson, would have reduced the penalty for possession of marijuana from a Class 1 to a Class 2 misdemeanor. The bill would have scaled back the maximum penalties and jail time associated with a charge of marijuana possession. 

Lawmakers will be back for the 2014 session starting in mid-January. Will this 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

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

Learn about South Dakota's marijuana laws

In 2007, there were 1,456 arrests for marijuana possession in South Dakota and 130 arrests for marijuana sales. These marijuana arrests accounted for 73 percent of all drug arrests in South Dakota that year. 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! You can learn more about South Dakota's marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, Ph.D. You can send a letter to your legislators asking them to reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana to a civil fine or asking them to end marijuana prohibition entirely.

Stay connected

Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. If you have not already, please subscribe to our free legislative alert service to stay up-to-date on the status of marijuana policy reform in South Dakota.

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