South Dakota Law Can Get You Busted for Using Marijuana in Another State [FEATURE]

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

South Dakota's Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe announced over the weekend that it was suspending operations on its marijuana resort set to open on New Year's Eve and that it had burnt its pot crop. The tribe said it was seeking "clarification" from the Justice Department to ensure "the continued success of the marijuana venture."

The move comes as at least three other Indian tribes that have embarked on marijuana operations after the Justice Department seemingly gave them a green light last year have been raided by the DEA, a Justice Department agency. At this point, Indian tribes have reason to be nervous about what the federal stance really is.

But the Flandreau pot operation also drew fast and intense opposition from the state's Republican political establishment and law enforcement figures. And that opposition has brought renewed attention to one of the most bizarre state marijuana laws in the land, South Dakota's "internal possession" law.

As Republican state Attorney General Marty Jackley warned -- twice -- when the tribe announced its plans in June, "South Dakota law prohibits the internal and physical possession, distribution, and manufacture of marijuana by: (1) all non-Indian persons anywhere in South Dakota including within Indian country; (2) all persons, including tribal members, outside of Indian Country."

The sheriff and prosecutor of Moody County, where the Flandreau reservation is located, reiterated Jackley's point.

"Bottom line," said Sheriff Troy Wellman, "if you're non-native, it's illegal for you to have marijuana in your system, regardless of whether you're on tribal ground."

"If you are a non-tribal member that goes over onto that property and ingests marijuana in any form, you are breaking the laws in the state of South Dakota," Moody County State's Attorney Paul Lewis added.

If you do this in Denver, it get could get you busted in Deadwood.
They're not kidding. Under a state law passed in 2001 and upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2004, you can be arrested, tried, and convicted for having marijuana in your system, even if you ingested it in another state or country (or Indian reservation).

Someone who legally smokes marijuana in Colorado and then drives across the prairie to South Dakota can be charged with the crime of having smoked marijuana elsewhere. It's the same for medical marijuana patients in states bordering South Dakota. Someone who holds a Minnesota or Montana medical marijuana card, uses his medicine, and then travels to South Dakota can be charged with the crime of having medicated where it is legal.

Here is the law:

22-42-15. Ingesting substance, except alcoholic beverages, for the purpose of becoming intoxicated as misdemeanor--Venue for violation. Any person who intentionally ingests, inhales, or otherwise takes into the body any substance, except alcoholic beverages as defined in § 35-1-1, for purposes of becoming intoxicated, unless such substance is prescribed by a practitioner of the medical arts lawfully practicing within the scope of the practitioner's practice, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The venue for a violation of this section exists in either the jurisdiction in which the substance was ingested, inhaled, or otherwise taken into the body or the jurisdiction in which the substance was detected in the body of the accused.

A Class 1 misdemeanor in South Dakota is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. That's the same penalty as for simple marijuana possession.

Note that the law specifically allows for prosecuting people for internal possession either where they ingested the substance or where it was detected.

It's not that the cops in South Dakota are randomly accosting passersby and demanding they submit to drug tests -- probable cause is needed -- but what typically happens is that someone is arrested and police then intimidate him into consenting to a urine drug test during booking. The person is then hit with another criminal charge -- internal possession -- providing more leverage for prosecutors during plea negotiations.

"The cops took me downtown and said if I didn't piss for them, they'd stick something in my dick and take it by force," Huron resident Dave Johnson said of his 2003 internal possession bust. "They were going to take it forcefully -- that's what they told me. So I said okay."

That's still how it works. People being booked into jails are told they need to provide a urine test, and if they demur, they are threatened with a court order and the prospect of forced drug testing. Of course, consenting to such drug tests makes it impossible for defense attorneys to challenge them in court, but agreeing to be tested means not only is the prospect of a forced drug test avoided, but also that the defendant will likely be booked and released instead of being held until he can appear before a judge for a warrant hearing.

Get popped for pot possession in South Dakota and count on getting popped for "internal possession," too. (
"I defend a lot of drug cases," said Huron attorney Ron Volesky, "and I've defended several of these urine sample cases, but I haven't yet seen an instance where we could challenge a court order because everyone has voluntarily consented. As a practical matter, when the police pick someone up they say, 'Look, we can do it the hard way or the easy way; you can voluntarily consent because we have probable cause, or we can wake up the judge, have him sign an order, and take you down and have you catheterized.' They basically threaten you," said Volesky.

While South Dakota residents are the most frequent victims of the state's internal possession law, it could happen to anyone, especially visitors unaware of the law. And they don't even have to get arrested for something to face a possible prosecution. Imagine you're a medical marijuana patient visiting Rapid City for a shopping trip and your car gets T-boned by a drunk driver who runs a red light. Hospitals routinely test the blood of accident victims. Congratulations, you've just become a criminal.

South Dakota, where you can get busted for something you did legally elsewhere. Probably not a slogan the state tourism board is going to select anytime soon.

United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

I try never to leave Colorado!

Personally, as a stoner, I don't feel safe anywhere else!

...but if I do, I'll be sure to avoid South Dakota!  But as always the real lesson is "legalize it," or even more fundamentally, "no more drug war!"  And as a recovering alcoholic, I recognize the legal provision "except for alcohol" as a death-sentence for some anonymous budding young alcoholics in South Dakota, who will be given an alcohol-or-nothing choice of recreational drugs; it will be an uphill climb for these poor souls to beat the odds.  They may never know that alcohol doesn't have to be the standard-bearer for social activity, and that it is okay to not-drink, just as it is okay to take a toke!  Well, in Colorado, you have a choice.  I choose cannabis!  Woo-hoo!

Oh yeah, and fuck the DEA

...for being the biggest bullies possible!  For the love of god, leave the tribes alone already!

End the DEA

Defund the DEA

medical case

If you're a medical marijuana patient, then you're not ingesting it for the purpose of becoming intoxicated, and it was prescribed by a practitioner of the medical arts, so this law wouldn't apply in such cases.

These Natzi Cowards need to be brought to justice

They Had To Do Something To Appease The South After Desegregation Laws
What Better Way Than To Have A Drug War? The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission
Becomes The DEA,as they passed their drug laws and What Suit Wouldn’t Turn A Blind Eye To The Long Haired Hippy, Do You Really Believe They Only Lie About Their Fen Fen And Viox?
Or That They Only Make Designer Steroids for Jock Only? They Control The Crave not only
With the  Nicotine Patch, or Just Another Weak Willed Immoral American As They Gut Our
Cities And Demand More Police. When The 1% Control The Wealth They Can
Play God And We Have To Stick Our Ass In The Air 5 Times A Day And
Hope We Don’t Offend Them Least They Label You Then No Amount Of Proof
Can Disprove Their Lie And No Agent Risk A Promotion To Challenge It

The Recent Cases Of Police Brutality you are To Believe Just One Bad Cop
When Its Really Top Down Protocol Imagine What They Do To The People
When No One Is Looking. Prisons. DEA. FBI CIA -The Arabs Cant Fund
Their Madrasa or send 13 million dollars to Yemen Without A Drug War but you can be assured its only VW that  Makes The Owners To Pay More In Fuel-  And If They Can Destroy A Few Immoral Westerns and poluute the air and water with deseile Then they would say All The


                  Just  reporting  the  Facts

·         Fact the American middle class is under Attack.

·         Fact they Attack Cancer patient and handicap.

·         Fact they would rather a child die than let him try the natural plants

·         Fact they would rip off a terminally ill person denying him his needs

·         Fact they would attack paraplegics and veterans

·         Fact they are selling out our Biblical Power over the plants and animals to Big Pharm

·         Fact they would give someone life in Prison for weed

·         Fact they would give someone 5 Years in Jail for weed

·         Fact One person every Minute is Arrested/attacked ripped off assaulted for weed

·         Fact they sprayed paraquat on the weed knowing it did nothing but give the person Cancer

·         Fact the American Declaration and Constitution is written on weed/ HEMP

·         Fact They Have Gutted our cities and increased the crime violence exponentially since 1950s

·         Fact we could have Fuels and Plastics far superior and cleaner  with HEMP than the petroleum based that destroy our Environment

·         Fact the Amount of police Abuse is not just isolated incidents but is rampant throughout the

·         Fact they make billions on this drug war

·         Fact they not only have an incentive and motive to attack the smoker, the so called undesirables they would be penalized if they didn’t attack them

·         Fact they use fraudulent science to promote their FDA Approved drugs/devices while insuring the cheap and free plants cant win FDA approval

·         Fact they are in it for the profit not the cure

·         Fact they can play God Using high technology targeting anyone who refuses to carry out the 1% agenda  

·         Fact people would be amazed that the technology they can use once considered only science fiction now science fact.

·         Fact if we don’t insure our freedom now they will continue to steal it from us, As Mohamed something of the World Health Organization insist it’s not how hard an American woks, regardless of all the science and technology an American can’t make a building safe for a

smoker and NON smoker to peacefully coexist

·         Fact GET LOUD News Reports and Documents there are no homeless in America only refugees.

·         Facts Some Europeans can walk down to the store and buy what they need or want while gangs here are free to profit endlessly and we have to live with the crime and violence giving America the highest addiction rate in the world along with the highest prison rates in the name of the drug war

·         Fact our FREEDOM IS UNDER ATTACK and this list can go on and on











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