Is marijuana legal in South Dakota?
Current federal status
Cannabis is illegal under federal law.
Marijuana is not legal in South Dakota, which may have some of the most draconian cannabis laws and punishments in the nation.
Both medical and recreational use are prohibited. Possession of a medical marijuana card from another state is not considered a legal defense.
Possession of two ounces or less is a misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to $6,000, and up to one year in jail.
A second conviction for personal use is a felony, with penalties starting at one year in prison.
South Dakota’s penalties for concentrates are absolutely medieval. Any amount is considered a felony worthy of a $20,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
We cannot stress this enough: Do not bring a vape pen into South Dakota. The oil in the cartridge may be considered “hashish” and the slightest amount is a felony.
Marijuana paraphernalia is illegal in South Dakota.
Any amount of marijuana over two ounces is subject to felony-based penalties on a scale depending on the amount.
Merely inhabiting a room where marijuana is being used or stored can land you in jail for a year, or a $2,000 fine.
State law prohibits the sale of hemp for smoking or inhaling.
South Dakota’s stringent marijuana laws resulted in 8,997 drug arrests in 2019. Based on previous year data, roughly 40% of all drug arrests in South Dakota are for simple possession of marijuana. That means about 3,600 arrests were made for cannabis possession in 2019.
South Dakota marijuana penalties
South Dakota’s current marijuana penalties are as follows:
- Two ounces or less, first offense: $2,000 fine, up to one year in jail
- More than two ounces: $4,000 fine, 1 year in jail
- Eight ounces to one pound: $10,000 fine, 5 years in prison
- One to ten pounds: $20,000 fine, 10 years in prison
- More than ten pounds: $30,000 fine, 15 years in prison
Concentrates (extracts, aka “hashish”)
Any amount: $20,000 fine, 10 years in prison. Do not mess with concentrates in South Dakota.
Possession of anything considered drug paraphernalia, including a bong, is a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
South Dakota recreational & medical marijuana legalization efforts
South Dakota recreational and medical legalization efforts are in full swing in 2020. Two separate legalization ballot measures—a constitutional amendment and an initiated measure—will go before voters statewide on Nov. 3, 2020:
- Constitutional Amendment A would legalize the adult use of marijuana
- Initiated Measure 26 would legalize medical marijuana
What Constitutional Amendment A would do
Constitutional Amendment A (CA-A) would legalize the recreational use, possession, and distribution (up to one ounce) of marijuana for individuals 21 years old and older.
Additionally, the amendment would require the state legislature to create a medical marijuana program and legalize the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022. Furthermore, it would require all revenue—aside from implementation costs—to be split between the state’s general fund and public education system.
What Initiated Measure 26 would do
Patients would be allowed to possess a maximum of three ounces of marijuana, plus additional marijuana products. Patients could grow at least three plants at home, and more with a physician’s approval. The program’s rules would be established and enforced by the South Dakota Department of Health.
You can support South Dakota’s legalization efforts and Initiated Measure 26 by donating to South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws.
Register to vote in South Dakota using this online form
Legalization initiative supporters
CA-A sponsor: Brendan Johnson, former US Attorney for South Dakota. Johnson served as US Attorney from 2009 to 2015, one of the longest tenures in state history.
IM 26 sponsor: Local activist Melissa R. Mentele. A member of a longtime South Dakota agricultural family, Mentele has been a driving force for progressive cannabis law reform in the state for many years.
- Drey Samuelson, political director for both campaigns and former chief of staff for Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Legalization initiative opponents
Would cannabis stores be licensed?
Under CA-A, recreational cannabis stores would be licensed by the Department of Revenue (which would oversee the adult-use retail program). Local governments would have the legal authority to ban any category of license (cultivation, testing, wholesale, retail).
Under IM-26, medical marijuana dispensaries would be licensed and regulated by the South Dakota Department of Health.
Would marijuana be taxed?
Adult-use cannabis would be subject to a 15% tax at retail. Medical marijuana would not be taxed.
South Dakota cannabis DUI laws
Like everywhere else, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, or other controlled substances in South Dakota. According to NORML, South Dakota law states that “as long as physical evidence of the consumption remains present in the person’s body” that person can be deemed to be driving under the influence of any substance.
Since cannabis can be detected in the body weeks after use, this law puts totally sober drivers who have consumed cannabis days or weeks in the past at risk of extreme consequences.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in South Dakota
Are edibles legal in South Dakota?
No. Edibles, like pot brownies, are illegal. There is no legislation specific to edibles in South Dakota. However, they could be considered a form of “hashish,” which carries a horrible 10-year prison term.
Is South Dakota a legal recreational state?
No, South Dakota is not a recreational weed state. It’s an extreme prohibition state.
Is CBD legal in South Dakota?
No, CBD is not legal in South Dakota. In 2019, the South Dakota attorney general issued a statement clarifying that all forms of CBD oil are illegal in the state, unless specifically prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy.
Is smokable hemp allowed in South Dakota?
No, sale of floral parts is prohibited.
Can you get a medical marijuana card in South Dakota?
No. Medical marijuana legalization is on the statewide Nov. 3 ballot.
Keep up with the latest news about legalization in South Dakota
You’ll want to keep current on South Dakota’s fast-changing laws by bookmarking Leafly politics and signing up for our newsletter.
Post last updated Sept. 5, 2020