SoDakNORML will send this letter (or one quite similar) to every South Dakota legislator and every nominee on the November ballot for the legislature.
October 1, 2012
Hello Sen. Worldview;
SoDakNORML obtained some statistics from the South Dakota Unified Justice System. Our experience with UJS's public information folks was more than satisfactory, downright exemplary as a matter of fact.
Among the numbers, we were struck by these: 82,402 people have been charged with possession of "marijuana" since FY1999 began. That's a possession arrest every 90 minutes. Someone was convicted every 5.5 hours, 24/7/365, for 14 years. Go back 30 years and the numbers begin to lose meaning. "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic." (Stalin)
What has been accomplished by this carnage? "Marijuana" is more available in South Dakota, of better quality, and cheaper than it was 14 years ago.
There are about 824,000 people in So. Dak. One in every 200 of them is arrested every year for possession. How many people possess pot but are not arrested? I'd say it's in the area of 10 to 20 times the number who are charged with possession. That's between 38,000 and 76,000 South Dakotans. If that many people (5-9% of the population) are breaking the law, there is something wrong with the law. Does anyone want to make the argument that significantly more people DON'T "get away with" possession than are charged with it?
We don't know how much it costs to arrest someone for possession or distribution. We don't know how much is recovered in the form of fines and property forfeitures to offset that cost. If it costs more to arrest someone for doing something that doesn't hurt someone else than we, as taxpayers, get back, we should stop doing it. If we, as taxpayers, make money arresting people for doing something that doesn't hurt someone else, we should stop doing it.
Right now, marijuana possession is a game of chance. Mostly we gamble on the chance that something will NOT happen that gets us pulled over and searched when we're carrying a couple grams (most people have learned to take only what they need with them in the car). The fine and other expenses (car tow, lawyer) have become a "getting-caught" tax.
If the legislature wants to tax cannabis, it has the power to do so. It's likely that The State could net more money by doing whatever it has to do to allow people to legally traffic in the same substance they ALREADY traffic in illegally than it does by seizing cash, cars, cameras, casas and kids. The rest of us would feel a lot better about it, too, if we could just buy some weed from a retailer who has a sales tax license and knows how to grow good weed or knows someone who does.
It occurs to us that more damage is done in South Dakota every year by the laws Prohibiting cannabis than has been done by cannabis in its entire history of interaction with human beings.
Bob Newland For SoDakNORML
Jesse Grimm, Hot Springs, combat veteran
Dennis Bridenstine, Lead, paraplegic
E. J. GreyBuffalo, Sisseton, degenerative bone disease patient