Medical marijuana likely on the legislative agenda in 2017
Last update: January 19, 2017
Although no medical marijuana bill has been introduced yet in South Dakota in 2017, it is widely expected to be on the agenda.
Last year, the legislature held hearings on a medical marijuana bill, SB 171. Unfortunately, it was amended into an ineffective CBD oil bill prior to passing the Senate and did not pass the House. Nevertheless, there is clearly increasing interest on the part of many legislators to address the issue. And, since last year’s legislative session, North Dakota became the 28th state to pass an effective medical marijuana program.
Meanwhile, South Dakota advocates have also been working hard to put the issue on the ballot. New Approach South Dakota came close to putting a measure on the 2016 ballot, falling shy due in part to a notary error. They are now working to put medical marijuana on the 2018 ballot.
South Dakota marijuana possession laws may be the nation’s harshest
Possession of just a small amount of marijuana in the state carries a potential penalty of a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Even more alarmingly, individuals who have consumed marijuana elsewhere are also subject to this penalty if they test positive for past use — even if they consumed marijuana in a state where it was legal. South Dakota appears to be the only state with such an “internal possession” law. In addition, possession of any amount of hash or concentrates is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
A study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that South Dakota was among the top 10 states for racial disparity in marijuana possession arrest rates. Despite people of all races using marijuana at very similar rates, blacks in South Dakota are nearly 4.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Click here to ask your legislators to treat marijuana possession as civil offense, eliminating jail time for adults who choose to use a substance that is safer than alcohol and the life-changing collateral consequences triggered by a criminal conviction.
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