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Woman facing felony after her children allegedly access marijuana edibles

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    RAPID CITY, South Dakota (Rapid City Journal) — A Rapid City woman is facing a felony charge because her children were hospitalized after she allegedly left marijuana edibles in an area where they were able to access them, according to a news release from the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office responded to the incident on April 9 but the state’s attorney’s office didn’t charge the woman until Tuesday, court records show. The charges were announced Wednesday, the same day the South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments about the lawsuit filed by Sheriff Kevin Thom and another law enforcement official against Amendment A, which legalized recreational marijuana.

“The Supreme Court hearing had no bearing on this case,” said Helene Duhamel, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office and a state senator.

This is the first time, at least in recent memory, that a child has gained access to their parent’s drugs in Pennington County, Duhamel said.

“We checked with several school resource officers and liaison officers involved in juvenile law enforcement, no one can remember anything like this case,” she said. “This is the first time that students were so intoxicated at school that we needed to call medical support.”

The 36-year-old woman is charged with drug possession, a Class Five felony punishable by up to five years in prison and contributing to the abuse, neglect or delinquency of a minor, a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

The Journal is not naming the woman in order to protect the identity of her children.

The woman turned herself in Wednesday morning after being contacted by the sheriff’s office about her arrest warrant, Duhamel said. She said the sheriff’s office only issues arrest warrants, not summons, for felony charges.

After turning herself in, the woman paid a bond set by a magistrate judge that cost either $1,000 in cash or $100 to a bond company, her arrest warrant shows.

The police reports about the incident were sealed by a judge. What follows is from the news release:

A 10- and 11-year-old ate marijuana edibles that looked like candy after their mother left them in an area where they could access them on April 9.

The edibles made them become “severely ill at school” by impairing their ability to walk and talk before leading to a “rapid decline in their health and cognitive ability” to the point that they were having hallucinations.

A school police officer called for medical support and the children were hospitalized overnight for treatment.

“This certainly raises the red flag about the dangers of marijuana edibles getting into the hands of children,” Thom said in the news release. “Their potency can cause serious health issues to young children.”

Thom and Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller argued in their lawsuit that Amendment A is unconstitutional because it violates the one-subject rule and is not an amendment but a revision requiring approval from a constitutional convention.

Mark Vargo, Pennington County State’s Attorney, said he’s not prosecuting activity that would be legal under Amendment A for the time being. The amendment does not let adults allow children to access and use marijuana, which is what allegedly happened in this case.

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