Marijuana arrests in South Dakota are common, costly and carried out on a racially disproportionate basis, a new report released by advocates for a legalization measure on the state’s November ballot shows.
In fact, nearly one in 10 of all arrests in the state in 2018 were for cannabis offenses, with 95 percent of those cases concerning simple possession. There were 31,883 marijuana arrests in South Dakota from 2009 to 2018.
That’s according to an analysis of federal crime data, which was published by South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws on Tuesday.
The campaign says the report underscores the urgent need for voters to approve the adult-use legalization measure.
Most of the possession arrests were for seven grams or less, and about 40 percent were for one gram or less.
Importantly, the data shows that—as is the case across the country—marijuana enforcement has had a disparate impact on people of color, despite comparable rates of consumption among white people.
On average, black residents and Native Americans have been more than five times as likely to be arrested for cannabis compared to white people over the 10-year period the report examines.
“In 2018 Native Americans accounted for 10.3 percent of the population, but they comprised 19 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession,” the analysis found. “In 2018 Blacks accounted for 2.9 percent of the population, but they comprised 9.8 percent of marijuana possession arrests.”
The report also broke down costs