Governor Kristi Noem says she will continue to oppose industrial hemp, despite the USDA releasing a framework for states to follow.
She says legalizing hemp legalizes marijuana by default.
Governor Noem says she remains opposed to industrial hemp in South Dakota because of the impact it will have on public safety and law enforcement’s ability to enforce drug laws.
In her statement, she recognizes USDA guidelines released last week do require the state to permit interstate transportation of hemp. She says her team is working to ensure proper procedures are in place so the transport doesn’t weaken South Dakota’s drug laws.
Noem says she will continue to make the case that legalizing hemp will legalize marijuana by default. The governor’s office did not respond to questions after the statement was released.
One cannabis lawyer disagrees with Noem's statement.
Corey Cox is an associate attorney at Vicente Sederberg, a cannabis focused law firm headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
Cox says he questions the governor’s stance that hemp legalization leads to marijuana legalization.
“I think there’s kind of this prohibitionist mentality of the cannabis plant being very scary, medical marijuana and adult use marijuana being very scary, that there’s this slippery slope if we allow this hemp legislation that will inevitably lead to marijuana legalization. I don’t necessarily think that’s true. That’s something we haven’t seen play out in other states yet.”
Cox says other states have addressed the issue.
South Dakota is one of three states that does not allow cultivation of hemp. It’s one of seventeen states that does not have any adult or medical marijuana use program.
A state legislative committee studying industrial hemp cultivation meets on December 2nd, where they’re expected to send a recommendation to the executive board.