Report: 1 in 10 Arrests In South Dakota Cannabis related

Ahead of the November vote the  South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws  have published the following report


Primary Data Source:

  • U.S. Department of Justice’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, specifically from these three data sets: County Level Detailed Arrest Data, Arrests by Age, Sex, and Race (ASR), and the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

Key Findings:

  • From 2009 to 2018, 31,883 people were arrested for marijuana in South Dakota, 95% of them for possession offenses.

  • In 2018, roughly one out of every ten arrests in South Dakota was for marijuana (4,218 out of 44,389).

  • From 2007 to 2018, marijuana arrests in South Dakota increased by 166% from 1,586 in 2007 to 4,218 in 2018.

  • On average, the arrest rates for Native Americans and Black South Dakotans has been over five times higher than for whites for the 10-year period from 2007 to 2018.

  • South Dakotans under the age of 25 accounted for 63% of all marijuana arrests in the 10-year period from 2007 to 2016.

  • Of all marijuana arrests involving 8 ounces or less, the vast majority involved less than seven grams, and over 40% of those were for a gram or less (2007-2016 arrest data).

  • Ninety-eight percent (98.2%) of marijuana violations in South Dakota from 2007 to 2016 were standalone offenses, meaning the individual was not charged with any other crime. In addition, in 99.1% of marijuana arrests, no weapons were seized by police.

  • According to the South Dakota Legislative Research Council, the cost of jailing a person is $90.26 per day. On this basis, the annual cost of jailing all 4,218 people arrested for marijuana in South Dakota in 2018 for 15 days each would be $5.7 million. A sentence of 90 days each would cost the state $34.3 million. Sentencing each to a full year in prison, the maximum allowable penalty for possession of eight ounces of less, would be $139 million.

  • Based on the percentage of arrests made for marijuana compared to the overall law enforcement costs for South Dakota, the report estimates that each marijuana arrest costs the state approximately $4,000.

  • The report notes that, in addition to jail time and fines, long-term harms of a marijuana arrest for an individual in South Dakota can include: loss of eligibility for adoption or foster parenting; loss of eligibility for public housing; difficulties securing employment due to employer discrimination; barriers to professional licensure; and loss of educational aid.

  • The counties with the highest marijuana arrest rates are Dewey, Buffalo, Hughes, Todd, and Roberts.

Full Report


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