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When marijuana is legal in your state but not in many others

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2017 | Criminal Defense, Firm News |

Marijuana laws in the United States tend to get more flexible and expansive every year. As of the beginning of 2017, such states as Colorado, California and Nevada allow recreational use. Medical use is okay in these states as well as in Montana and North Dakota. However, in South Dakota, along with many other states, marijuana is not legal in any form. This can spell trouble when tourists, such as Sturgis rally-goers, visit South Dakota.

Overview of the pot law in South Dakota

The law regarding pot in South Dakota is quite restrictive. In fact, it is arguably the worst in the nation. Even if you have a medical marijuana card from a state in which the drug is legal, you can be arrested for possessing marijuana in South Dakota. The consequences of a marijuana arrest may include losing your driver’s license, paying fines and even serving jail time.

Why problems occur

South Dakota is a fairly large state. It has tourist attractions in its own right, but it is also home to part of Interstate 90. Many people pass through on their way to or from the West Coast, where marijuana legalization is the norm. Say you have left Washington state to drive home to Minnesota, and you are pulled over because of a broken taillight. If a police officer notices marijuana in your car, you could be in trouble-even if you procured the marijuana legally in Washington.

Similarly, if you live in Colorado and head to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, you could be arrested on pot charges. This holds true whether you are using the substance for medical or recreational purposes. Medical marijuana cards in South Dakota hold no weight since they are issued by other states.

Letting your guard down

Each state has its own laws, although many federal laws provide consistency from state to state. However, when you live in a state where marijuana is legal, it is easy to forget it is not legal everywhere. You see pot shops on many corners and see all types of people eating marijuana candy and smoking pot. You could leave on a road trip and be arrested a few hours later for something you did not even think twice about.

If you are arrested, you probably feel frustrated and scared. You do not know what might happen to you, and the situation is doubly infuriating because if you were in your home state, there would be no problem. To ensure your rights are upheld, it can be a good idea to get in touch with an attorney.