Cannabis laws differ slightly from state to state – but only a couple of states have gone as far as to make possession-by-ingestion illegal. What that basically means is that even though the drug is long gone, if it is in your system and detectable via urinalysis or blood test then you can still be charged with possession of that drug. In South Dakota, that law was implemented in 2001 and it not only makes it illegal to have marijuana – or any drug – in your system, but it is also a felony offense.
That law was contested in court, but in 2004 the South Dakota Supreme Court upheld the law and it has not been touched since. Now Senate Bill 129 has been introduced and already has seventeen sponsors – and it aims to repeal this ridiculous law. If passed, then people who have already consumed cannabis will no longer be able to be charged with a felony – however, it would not remove the same penalty for other possession-by-ingestion laws in regards to other drugs.
“When I hear possession, I think the of the potential for distribution, and obviously if the drug is already ingested that can’t happen,” Lust said Thursday. “There is no chance this drug would end up in the hands of a child once it has been ingested.” He noted the punishment, which can include a felony charge, seemed “unduly harsh” for the crime.
Now that there are multiple states where cannabis is legal for adult use, it only makes sense that they may decide to re-evaluate their current policies when it comes to what is considered possession. After all, people should not have to fear being arrested, and even jailed with a felony record all because they decided to consume legal cannabis while they were vacationing in a state where it is legal – and that scenario could come up increasingly more often as other states move to legalize the plant.
“It is refreshing to see our state making choices to move forward into lessening the penalties of cannabis use,” Mentele said. “With cannabis being legal in over half of the U.S., it is very sad to see children and adult patients still suffering in our state. While this is not where we need to be, it is a step forward.”
While this is nowhere near something as progressive as legalizing marijuana for adult use or even decriminalization – it will hopefully repeal an entirely unnecessary law that really doesn’t have any place being a law at all. Being able to charge people with possession for something that may not have been active in their system for days, weeks, or even months in some cases is going overboard – and it seems that at least some of the state’s lawmakers realize that keeping this law on the books really is a mistake.