Marijuana: Bill to Increase Penalties for Sales to Minors Moving in South Dakota

Under current South Dakota law, any adult distributing any amount of marijuana to a minor faces up to 10 years in prison, but a bill backed by Republican state Attorney General Larry Long would stiffen those already harsh penalties in most cases. That bill unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, and could be voted on by the House as early as today.

The bill, HB1061, actually reduces the maximum sentence from 10 years to five years for distribution of less than an ounce to a minor, but keeps it at 10 years for distribution of between an ounce and a half-pound, increases it to 15 years for a half-pound to a pound, and jacks it up to a jaw-dropping 25 years for more than one pound. Like all other marijuana felonies in South Dakota, a 30-day mandatory minimum jail sentence for a first offense is included.

Attorney General Long told reporters he drafted the bill after a judge told him that some marijuana distribution offenses to adults had tougher sentences than the 10 years for giving it to a minor.

There are currently 10 men and one woman serving prison sentences for distribution of marijuana to a minor in South Dakota. According to the state Department of Corrections, they join another 72 marijuana prisoners, including 10 doing hard time for selling less than ounce and seven for possessing less than a half-pound. Those pot prisoners are among the 661 drug prisoners that constitute one-fifth of the state's rapidly growing prison population.

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What about the kids?

But, will this bill cover minors selling to minors? What will they get? The fact is, most kids are going to figure out how to get it. And, mostly, other kids will be their contacts! I don't disagree that minors should not consume any illegal or legal (alcohol) toxins. I think it is bad on their brains and psyche! The dealers may stop hounding our kids, if we legalize and regulate it. Thus, knocking the profit out of the business. Just like we did alcohol, when it was regulated and prohibition ended. Kids can get drugs easier than alcohol. Just ask any teenager! Adults selling to kids, now that is a different situation, altogether. It's just wrong! But, as we know, MONEY (profit) trumps all!

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