South Dakota Marijuana Trafficking Laws

Can You Mail Weed Legally in South Dakota

No. Whether through the United States Postal Service (USPS) or other private carriers, it is illegal to mail weed in South Dakota. The USPS prohibits products containing THC from being shipped through its services since THC and marijuana are listed as Schedule I substances under the United States Controlled Substance Act. Thousands of mailed pot packages are intercepted by the USPS every year. In the 2018 fiscal year, postal inspectors seized 96,668 pounds of mailed narcotics and other illegal substances. Note that the USPS operates under federal regulations. Private mail carriers in South Dakota do not allow South Dakotans to mail weed to other residents as recreational weed is illegal in the state.

What Are the Penalties for Transporting Edibles Across State Lines in South Dakota?

Regardless of whether you are going to a cannabis-friendly state, it is illegal to transport marijuana products, including edibles, across state lines. The transportation of marijuana edibles across state lines is a federal crime and may result in federal criminal prosecution. The crime attracts a harsh penalty of a $250,000 fine and five years imprisonment. Marijuana edibles refer to foods such as gummies, candies, cookies, and other baked products infused with cannabis.

How to Get a Drug Trafficking Charge Dismissed in South Dakota?

Drug trafficking cases are often serious cases with the potential of hefty punishments. Still, you may be able to get drug trafficking charges dismissed in South Dakota by following these steps:

  • Do not speak without an attorney present: This applies to anyone charged with a crime, but it is particularly crucial if you face drug trafficking allegations. Whatever you tell the police may be used against you in court. Hence, it is advisable to use your right to stay quiet and wait to consult with an attorney
  • Hire the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney: Contact a criminal defense counsel as soon as you are arrested or find that you are under investigation for drug trafficking. An experienced criminal defense attorney in South Dakota will be able to defend your rights and may get your charges dismissed
  • Understand your rights: The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you against unlawful searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment does not allow law enforcement to conduct a search of your home, vehicle, or person without a warrant or reasonable cause unless you agree to the search. A judge may dismiss the charges against you if your arrest was based on illegally obtained evidence
  • Know if you are being trapped: Occasionally, undercover officers or confidential informants (CIs) may pressure you into committing a crime. If an officer or confidential informant coerced you into drug trafficking, your counsel may use this as a defense. However, this defense is not applicable in all situations. Also, note that if law enforcement officers obtain information from a confidential informant, they will be hesitant to reveal the source in order to protect the CI's identity. However, under the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to confront the individual accusing you of a crime. The prosecution may seek to negotiate a bargain with you in order to prevent revealing the identity of the CI
  • Find out if there is sufficient evidence: If you are arrested for drug trafficking in South Dakota, the burden of proof lies with law enforcement and the prosecutor. If police find illegal substances around you, they may think you are involved in drug trafficking. However, proximity to narcotics is not evidence that the substance is yours. If law authorities cannot establish that you had "constructive possession" of a controlled substance, they cannot prosecute you with drug trafficking

Drug Trafficking Facts in South Dakota

The possession of a controlled substance or illegal drug with the intent to distribute, dispense, or deliver it to someone else is considered drug trafficking. In South Dakota, not only popular drugs like heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are classified as controlled substances, but also compounds used in manufacturing them. A controlled drug or substance means a substance, drug, or immediate precursor in Schedules I through IV as identified from Section 34-20B-11 to 34-20B-26 of the South Dakota Codified Laws.

Drug trafficking involving one or more grams of cocaine or a Schedule I Controlled Substance constitutes drug trafficking in South Dakota. This offense carries a minimum of two years and up to 99 years imprisonment, with fines reaching up to $50,000.

According to Section 22-42-2 of the South Dakota Codified Laws, selling a controlled drug to a minor is an elevated Class 2 felony. The mandatory minimum jail sentence is five years for the first offense and ten years for the second. Repeat offenders are ineligible for a suspended sentence.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), there was an increase in South Dakota drug seizures in 2020 compared to 2019, with 150 pounds of methamphetamine leading the list of most often seized narcotics. In contrast, DEA agents confiscated 29 pounds of methamphetamine in 2019, half the weight of South Dakota's most significant single seizure in 2020, which weighed 59 pounds. In addition to increased methamphetamine seizures, DEA officers saw a rise in fentanyl entering the state. Other than the tablet form, fentanyl is also available as a powder.

The potentially lethal fentanyl drug is around 100 times more powerful than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. A dosage of two milligrams, comparable to a few grains of salt, is considered fatal. Using this metric, the 312 grams of fentanyl seized in South Dakota in 2020 corresponds to nearly 156,000 deadly doses. More than 1,000 dosages of cocaine, valued at nearly $12,000, were removed off the streets by DEA agents in South Dakota. Agents in South Dakota seized 19 pounds of marijuana in 2020, compared to 7.5 pounds in 2019.

According to the FBI data, arrests for marijuana drug sales declined between 2017 and 2020. In 2017, there were 236 arrests for marijuana drug sales, 119 arrests in 2019, and only 84 arrests for the same offense in 2020.

How Many Grams of Weed Is Considered Trafficking in South Dakota?

Possessing more than 0.5 ounce or 14.2 grams of weed is considered weed trafficking in South Dakota. Any person caught in possession of more than 0.5 ounce of marijuana may be charged with a Class 5 felony which attracts up to five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. 

What Are the Weed Trafficking Consequences in South Dakota?

The penalties for weed trafficking in South Dakota are contained in Section 22-42-7 of the South Dakota Codified Laws. Trafficking: 

  • Up to 0.5 ounce of the substance is a misdemeanor punishable by a minimum of 15 days but up to 12 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,000
  • 1 ounce or less is punishable by maximum 24-month imprisonment and a maximum fine of $4,000
  • Between 1 ounce and 0.5 pounds is punishable by maximum 5-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Between 0.5 pounds and 1 pound is punishable by maximum 10-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $20,000
  • Above 1 pound is punishable by maximum 15-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $30,000
  • Up to 1 ounce to a minor is punishable by maximum 5-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Between 1 ounce and 0.5 pounds to a minor is punishable by maximum 10-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $20,000
  • Between 0.5 pounds and 1 pound to a minor is punishable by maximum 15-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $30,000
  • Above 1 pound to a minor is punishable by maximum 25-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $50,000

How to Transport Weed Legally in South Dakota

In order to transport medical weed legally in South Dakota, you must be a cannabis business licensed by the Department of Health. The South Dakota Department of Health licenses medical marijuana cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and dispensaries. To obtain any of these licenses, review the medical cannabis establishment application checklist and visit the South Dakota medical cannabis website for more information.

According to Section 44:90:04:21 of the South Dakota Administrative Rule, transported cannabis and cannabis products must be secured in a compartment that is enclosed, locked, and concealed from public view. Testing samples of cannabis and cannabis products must be delivered in properly labeled sample collecting containers with tamper-evident seals that provide obvious proof that the packages have been earlier opened. Other than samples for testing, all cannabis and cannabis products moved to other cannabis establishments must be transported in sealed containers identifying the recipients.

A manufacturing facility or dispensary transporting an edible product needing refrigeration to another cannabis establishment must provide refrigerated transport. When necessary, a cannabis business must utilize temperature-controlled transport vehicles to prevent cannabis or cannabis product spoilage during transportation.

Section 44:90:04:18 of the South Dakota Administrative Rules also require that vehicles transporting cannabis or cannabis products, including those conveying samples for testing:

  • Have valid automobile insurance policies
  • Functioning alarm systems
  • Have no markings that can identify them as vehicles used to transport cannabis or cannabis products