Attorney General’s Response to Recommendation to Significantly Reduce or Decriminalize Controlled Substance Use in South Dakota

Attorney General’s Response to Recommendation to Significantly Reduce or Decriminalize Controlled Substance Use in South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D.- Attorney General Marty Jackley responds to the Urban Institute recommendation that South Dakota reduce possession and ingestion of a controlled substance to a misdemeanor.

“As South Dakota’s Attorney General, I have and will continue to strongly support crime prevention efforts and opportunities to avoid incarceration when it does not place the public at risk, which includes drug and DUI courts and our state’s 24/7 Sobriety Program. I joined with our States Attorneys, Sheriffs, and Chiefs of Police to support Senate Bill 70 reforms, because it presented the opportunity with proper implementation to improve our justice system. However, any attempt to decriminalize or turn serious felony drug possession or ingestion into a low level misdemeanor would unnecessarily place the public’s health and safety at risk. The public would be better served by strengthening our prevention, enforcement and treatment efforts including focusing on a strong anti-meth and heroin campaign,” said Jackley.

“The further attempt to extend presumption probation to the more serious felony crimes in the wake of EB-5 and GEAR UP financial misconduct is similarly out of touch with what South Dakota must do to improve the public’s trust on conflicts-of-interest and government programs,” Jackley further stated.

“The vast majority of serious crimes committed in South Dakota are chemically propelled. Homicides, robberies, burglaries and numerous other felony offenses are driven by illicit drug use and addiction. Individuals that buy, sell, and use these drugs are dangerous. One can’t possess illegal drugs internally, without having previously possessed them externally. Individuals that have ingested these dangerous poisons are proven to be more of a danger to society than non-using individuals. Watering down our drug laws any further would have serious consequences to public safety and the quality of life in South Dakota.

I am adamantly opposed to decriminalizing drug use in the name of reducing prison populations and saving money. To do so, would lead to more serious felony offenses and be counterproductive,” stated Minnehaha County States Attorney Aaron McGowan.
South Dakota law enforcement continues to see an increase in drug activity in marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and other controlled substances in our state that are often tied to violent crime. High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDT) numbers indicate that in 2015 9.023 grams of heroin was seized compared to the 30.89 grams seized in the first three months of 2016. Methamphetamine pounds seized has more than doubled since 2003 from 14 pounds to 31 pounds in 2015.

Violence associated with drug use affects public safety and extends to officer involved shootings. Since becoming Attorney General in 2009, Attorney General Jackley has investigated 24 officer involved shootings and of those, 12 subjects tested positive for either marijuana and/ or a controlled substance.

15 Replies to “Attorney General’s Response to Recommendation to Significantly Reduce or Decriminalize Controlled Substance Use in South Dakota”

  1. Troy Jones

    Anybody else think the comment on Gear-up and EB-5 was a gratuitous political statement? Except for political, what else can be its purpose in this press release?

    1. Anonymous

      Absolutely political! Jackley should be careful when bringing up EB-5. He made sure Bollen wasn’t prosecuted until after Rounds became Senator. In case you forgot, Jackley was appointed by Rounds.

  2. Chad Krier

    Attorney General Jackley, Thank you for standing against the political correctness and lunacy of the Left and standing up for South Dakota values. You are 100% correct in thinking that decriminalizing drugs will lead to an increase in other crimes. It would also lead to a further deterioration of our families and a loss of productivity and the health and well-being of our citizens.

    1. Anonymous

      This is ridiculous. Regulating what substances people can and can not put into their bodies is not a conservative value. It’s an authoritarian position to assert that the government possesses the authority to tell grown adults that they can not use certain drugs while at the same time allowing and promoting the use of other drugs. Alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are all highly addictive substances that have severe health risks associated with them. However, no one would dare suggest we should outlaw whiskey and cigarettes because adults should have the freedom to choose what recreational drugs they consume.This tough on crime attitude that results in people being turned into criminals for smoking a joint or doing some blow has got to stop. All it will accomplish is increasing the prison population and the “further deterioration of our families and a loss of productivity and the health and well-being of our citizens” as you eloquently put.

      1. Anonymous

        How Conservative and promoting of self-reliance is it to then ask those of us who are druggies to pay to rehab those who put whatever they want into their bodies? Not very, is it? Since alcohol and tobacco are already legal, aren’t there enough ways to escape reality for those who can’t handle life? Why legalize more ways to shirk the responsibility to take care of yourself? Legalizing everything because the individual should choose-now that’s ridiculous!

      2. Anonymous

        Anyone who compares the currently illegal drugs to caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco has either done enough drugs that they no longer have any ability to think logically or never had the ability to do so. People can enjoy the taste of an alcoholic or caffeinated drink without intending to alter their mental or physical state or having that happen. In fact, that is the case in 99% of instances when those things are consumed. Although it is less common for that to be the case with tobacco products, the similar effects of their use is minimal. In 100% of instances when illegal drugs are used, the intention and effect are to get high.

  3. Anonymous

    I always get a kick out of those touting personal rights to be able to put whatever they want into their bodies in regards to what is now illegal mind altering drugs. One major problem is that their drug use many times spills over and affects others into a negative way.

    Besides the link it is rents not getting paid since they prioritize getting stoned vs paying rent, loss in productivity at work, safety liability at work, unable to pass drug test, driving motor vehicles or equipment while under the influence, impaired judgment which at times leads to crimes committed, and the list goes on yet these advocates for using mind altering drugs do everything to justify their chemical dependency and not accept responsibility.

  4. Anonymous

    Then arrest these people under the statutes on the books that already prohibit that behavior. Neglecting your kids? Charge them with child abuse. Driving stoned out of your mind and kill someone? Vehicular manslaughter charge. Not paying rent? Evict the bum. Crimes should be based on actions not simply possession or consumption and the existing laws allow people to be held accountable for any destructive behavior they engage in.

    People prioritize drinking over their other responsibilities every day and when they commit a crime the justice system deals with it effectively. We also know that not everyone who drinks is a criminal. Why is everyone who consumes the wrong substance automatically a criminal?

    1. Anonymous

      “Why is everyone who consumes the wrong substance automatically a criminal?” Because it leads to other things that tend to get them into trouble legally. Many times it’s not just Marijuana but also Meth and other drugs too. Why do we need to decriminalize and possibly legalize another intoxicant? Why is there such a need to escape reality? What is wrong with reality?

      Many of these people need help but they have to be at a place where they can accept it, deal with it which can be very difficult by investing in themselves and moving forward. It’s hard. Life is hard but the rewards can be greater by gaining the tools to cope and thrive by living healthier!

      1. Anonymous

        Besides the legal problems that can result from mind altering drug use they are anti-social being an escape and hurt relationships being family, friends or whomever. Rarely is their use just confined to the user as far as negative consequences.

    2. Anonymous

      Yeah, wait until they kill somebody while stoned and then make it a criminal act. Small consolation to those the decedent left behind.

  5. Anne Beal

    how many of the alleged perps in Gear Up and EB-5 were high? Or were they addicted to gambling?
    Blaming crime on whatever somebody just put in their bodies makes no more sense than the “Twinkie Defense.”

  6. Desperate for Attention

    This press release makes Jackly look desperate for attention saying EB5, Gear UP, and conflict of interest all in the same press release is like saying lions and tigers and bears oh my!