South Dakota’s prosecutors and law enforcement are asking legislators to not “kick the can down the road” when it comes to fixing the South Dakota’s drug laws.
Laws differ from state to state for the controlled substance possession and intent to distribute, but South Dakota is the only state that criminalizes ingestion of a controlled substance as a felony offense, a legislative committee heard on Monday.
The committee of legislators and court and law enforcement officials are studying South Dakota’s laws regulating controlled substances to determine if changes need to be made during the 2020 legislative session. After hearing the South Dakota’s statistics at its meeting last month, the committee dug into those number further on Monday.
Dropping ingestion from a felony to a misdemeanor doesn’t make the addiction go away, and the state needs to do more work in drug treatment and prevention, Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said. Retired Judge Patricia Riepel said any changes the committee comes up with need to include treatment as an option, and the state needs to be “proactive versus reactive.”
The state is doing a lot of things right, including drug courts, but many defendants don’t choose treatment options because it’s easier to plead guilty and take the probation, said Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan.
Read the full story at the Argus Leader.