Growing trend of medical marijuana in traffic stops
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.