Law Enforcement: Growing Trend of Medical Marijuana in Traffic Stops
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 14, 2010
CONTACT: Major Randy Hartley, South Dakota Highway Patrol, 605.773.3105
PIERRE, S.D. – Law enforcement agencies in South Dakota are noting a growing trend of traffic stops that involve the presence of medical marijuana, according to Major Randy Hartley, acting superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
“A few years ago, those instances were very rare,’’ Hartley said.
The Highway Patrol and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation issued a joint statement noting that state troopers arrested seven people who possessed medical marijuana cards in 2009 for felony possession of marijuana and/or felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. In those arrests, law enforcement seized 32.5 pounds of marijuana and about 20 grams of hashish.
A recent arrest by the Highway Patrol involved an even larger quantity of drugs, Hartley said.
On Aug. 25,a state trooper stopped a 2007 Dodge pickup for a traffic violation on Interstate 90, east of Rapid City. The trooper discovered about 100 pounds of hydroponic marijuana, a half pound of hashish, and five hydrocodone pills in the pickup. The driver, Toby Hudson of Rogue River, OR, and the passenger, Paul Eddy of Blue Lake, CA, were charged with felony possession of marijuana and felony possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
Through a cooperative effort among the Highway Patrol, federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Attorney General’s Office, DCI, and the Rapid City/ Pennington County Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team, a controlled delivery of drugs from the Aug. 25 arrests was conducted in Milwaukee, WI. That resulted in three additional arrests and seizure of about $382,000 in cash. The 2007 Dodge pickup and $382,000 in cash are pending asset forfeiture.
In the course of the investigation, it was learned that the marijuana was grown by licensed medical marijuana providers and was intended for illegal distribution.
Measure 13 Proponents say:
The instances of arrests of people carrying medical cards were “rare” a few years ago because in the last few years the number of states which have passed laws to protect sick sick people using cannabis as an element of their therapy has doubled. Simply obtaining a medical marijuana card does not eliminate criminal thinking, and there is no reason to believe that it will promote criminal thinking. Measure 13 would provide a limited level of protection for truly ill individuals.
The arrestees in the small samples described may have had medical cards, but their actions were illegal regardless. They weren’t legal with 32 lb. in their home states. They would not be legal here after passage of IM13.
Hartley recounts one instance in 2010 of a “medical state connection.” So. Dak. law enforcement has arrested around 1000 people a year for marijuana offenses in each of the last 20 years. It’s not surprising that one of those arrests this year included a person violating the terms of his own medical card.
Interstate 90 is the longest interstate highway in the country (West Coast to Boston) and thus a major distribution route for all kinds of goods and merchandise, including illegal drugs. The Highway Patrol knows this. We're also sure they get their fair share of Federal Drug Enforcement money as well as the profit from the Civil Asset Forfeitures (casually mentioned in their press release - see "Policing For Profit - The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture", a report on a study performed by the Institute For Justice, March 2010 (www.ij.org)).
These arrests would have been made whether or not the law violators had medical marijuana cards. Their crime was due to the black market profit motive (greed). This announcement, devoid of useful information, outdated yet released three weeks before the election, is a political maneuver. None of it provides a reason to arrest sick people for trying to alleviate their own suffering.
Tony Ryan (605-336-2985, Cell - 605-521-8460)
"YES on 13" SDCompassion.org