Cannabis Accounts for One in Ten Arrests in South Dakota

Politics News - Arrests in South Dakota

Cannabis arrests in South Dakota are costly and racially disproportionate on top of being all too common, a new study reveals. 

In fact, 10% of all arrests in the state in 2018 were cannabis-related, with the majority of these offenses concerning possession of two ounces or less. 

What’s more, the number of cannabis arrests has been on the rise over the past decade. According to the study, from 2009 to 2018, there were 31,883 cannabis arrests in South Dakota or an increase of 166% from 2007 to 2018.

The study was commissioned by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws in an effort to encourage people to vote in favor of legalization this November. The state currently has one of the strictest cannabis policies in the US with both recreational and medicinal use of cannabis being illegal.

The report indicates that cannabis laws in South Dakota disproportionately affect Native and Black Americans.

In 2016, Native Americans made up 29.3% of all arrests for cannabis possessions, whereas Black Americans accounted for 10% of possession arrests, despite making just 8.9% and 2.1% of the population, respectively.

The study also suggests that cannabis-related incarceration cost taxpayers around $5.7 million in 2018 alone. 

That said, South Dakota is the first state to vote on both medical and adult-use cannabis legalization at the same time. 

Will cannabis advocates succeed in their efforts?

The numbers seem to support that idea. A recent poll showed 60% of voters in the state were in favor of recreational legalization, while 70% supported the legalization of medical cannabis.