Last week, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced that she was dropping her anti-hemp stance—with some caveats.
Noem on Tuesday gave her State of the State address, saying that “in the interest of being proactive,” she’d be “willing to sign legislation” on hemp. Noem vetoed a hemp bill last year because she said it didn’t adequately address concerns on public safety, law enforcement, and funding.
“I think we can all agree that we do not want to stress our already thin law enforcement resources. I also think we’re all in agreement that we don’t want to negatively impact our drug fighting efforts across the state,” Noem said Tuesday. “And given that so many of our families are being ripped apart by substance abuse, I know none of us wants to take a step backwards as we address those issues. Our primary obligation is to protect the health and the welfare of our citizens.”
Noem appears to have been nudged toward supporting hemp, in part, because of hemp rulemaking progress at the federal level, and because a South Dakota tribe has been given production approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“And, other states’ actions mean that we need to address hemp transportation through our state,” Noem added.
If her requirements are met, Noem said, she’d sign a hemp bill. First, Noem wants “reliable enforcement guidelines.” Specifically, an area of “particular interest” to Noem is “what impact decriminalization of hemp will have on other criminal drug prosecutions.” Second, Noem said the bill “must include responsible regulation regarding licensing, reporting and inspections,” as well as minimum land use estimates and associated application fees. Third, for those who transport without appropriate paperwork and permits, “there must be suitable legal consequences.” Finally, Noem said that startup and continued costs of running a hemp program in the state are expected to be roughly $3.5 million, which needs a funding plan.
“There has to be a plan to pay for this. Now, given all that we need to accomplish this year, if this is going to get done, my hope is that we can do it in the coming days so that we can focus on other priorities,” Noem said.
Also in the state, both a medical and an adult use legalization initiative have qualified for the 2020 ballot. (Catch up on Cannabis Wire’s coverage of these efforts here.)