A bill that would require lawmakers in South Dakota to regularly undergo a drug test has been passed by the state Senate a couple of weeks ago. The South Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 in favor of House Bill 1133.
Under the proposed legislation, lawmakers who refuse to take these mandatory drug tests and those who will test positive will be reported to legislative leaders and will be subjected to a disciplinary action.
The senate’s approval of the said measure came only a day after state representatives rejected it. The House State Affairs Committee deferred action on the bill with an 11-2 vote.
Pursuant to House Bill 1133, members of the Legislature are required to take drug tests on a regular basis. Those who refuse to take these mandatory drug tests will be reported to legislative leaders and will be subjected to a disciplinary action. The same goes for those who will test positive for illegal substances without doctor’s prescription.
The measure is very offensive. This is a solution that’s looking for a problem. – Senator Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids
According to supporters of House Bill 1133, the proposed legislation is aimed at demonstrating leadership and giving voters the confidence that the people they elected are not using prohibited drugs.
Rep. Dan Kaiser, R-Aberdeen, said that the proposal is their way of putting money where the mouth is and of taking leadership role. He said that if they are going to require other people to undergo drug testing, then they have to be willing to do the same thing, too.
Opponents, on the other hand, contend that the bill’s objective was unnecessary and contrived.
Rep. David Lust, R-Rapid, contended that the bill is either a cynical approach or a way of grandstanding. Either way, he said, it is inappropriate.
In South Dakota, cannabis is completely illegal. Testing positive for cannabis is considered to be a felony offense.
There are also those who find the proposed legislation intrusive and one that comes from the false belief that lawmakers are using illegal drugs.
Senator Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids, said the measure is very offensive and is based on the assumption that the legislature has a problem when there truly isn’t. This is a solution that’s actually looking for a problem, he added.
Cannabis in South Dakota
In South Dakota, cannabis is completely illegal. The state banned cannabis in 1933 as part of a larger trend throughout the country to restrict the drug.
The state is also not seen to join the legalization movement in the United States anytime soon.
Medical cannabis proponents, however, have collected 15,000 signatures in 2017 – meeting the required number of signatures – to bring the initiative on the ballot in this year’s elections. The initiative calls for allowing patients who are suffering from serious ailments to use medical cannabis provided they secure a doctor’s recommendation. Qualifying conditions will include cancer, Hepatitis C, and AIDS. Qualified patients can get a registration card that would allow them to possess up to 3 ounces of the drug.
Drug testing and cannabis
Testing positive for cannabis is considered to be a felony offense.
Cannabis is highly detectable in the system and it can be detected by saliva, urine, and hair analyses. In fact, cannabis stays longer in the system compared to alcohol because its compounds are stored in the fat cells instead of in the blood.
For infrequent users, cannabis can be detected up to two to five days after consumption. For regular and heavy users, it can be detected up to one to 15 days after use. And for chronic users, it can be detected one to 30 days after use.
This means that lawmakers who use cannabis will have to think twice or be very cautious.