The state legislature set to address meth epidemic

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2019 | criminal defense |

Possession of a controlled substance is a crime in South Dakota, but that does not seem to stop the parade of methamphetamine users going to lockup. Over 80% of people incarcerated for drug offenses are there because of meth addiction.

Getting help with handling a meth problem is something the state legislature is set to tackle. Thus far, the efforts of law enforcement agencies across the state have failed to stop this growing epidemic. What needs to change amid this crisis? Take a look at some of the ways the state wants to help you or a loved one escape this cycle of addiction.

Treatment first

As of now, if you find yourself convicted of a drug offense, you may wind up in jail. Once there, you have almost no access to resources or assistance to break the addiction. Officials who work in jails and prisons say that to combat the crisis, the government needs to create viable treatment programs. Otherwise, the likelihood of people reoffending or going back to their old ways is much higher, especially with meth.

Changing the law

Law enforcement agencies are also calling for the state to change the laws about meth. South Dakota is the only state that criminalizes the use of a controlled substance. It is also a felony, which means stiffer penalties for those merely using the drug. While it may have once acted to deter the use of drugs, it is now causing a rapidly expanding prison population that state resources cannot support.

Drug courts

There is some consideration about dropping drug use charges to misdemeanors, but officials say that will not deter addicts. If given a choice between drug court or jail, many choose jail instead of treatment. Getting help in kicking an addiction like meth is essential to the state ending the crisis.

If you or someone close to you has run into legal problems over meth use, you may want to speak to someone. Attorneys may help encourage alternatives to prison and even suggest drug court and treatment as alternatives.