Noem hopes to move past industrial hemp ‘in the coming days’

KELOLAND.com Original

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) is looking to wrap up industrial hemp legislation within a few days.

In her State of the State address, Noem outlined her ‘guardrails’ to approval, which she first told KELOLAND News about last week.

“Over the last year, we’ve had a long conversation about legalizing hemp. Everyone knows that I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Noem said to lawmakers.

Noem told the 105 lawmakers, many of whom voted to override her veto last session, that she’d like to get the bill passed in the coming days so they can focus on other priorities.

“I think we can all agree that we don’t 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.  And given that many of our families are being ripped apart by substance abuse, I know none of us want to take a step backwards as we address these issues,” Noem said.

In a media briefing after her speech, Noem said the USDA regulations, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s approval, interstate transportation and learning from other state’s mistakes led her to make this decision.

“I think this is the most responsible path forward in addressing the concerns, but also allowing an opportunity for us to go forward, unified, and really solve this problem,” Noem said.

It’s still going to be a heavy lift for both chambers of the legislature and the executive branch to come together. A KELOLAND News analysis of the bill vs. Noem’s guardrails shows several areas of disagreement.

One of those is related to Noem’s budget projections. She puts inspections in the hands of the Department of Public Safety, while the pre-filed bill puts it in control of the Department of Agriculture.

Noem is sticking with her plan.

“I want Department of Ag to be doing the licensing and registering, but I want the Department of Public Safety to be doing the inspections and the enforcement side of it,” she said.

Public Safety is best equipped to do the inspections, Noem said.

“I think that makes perfect sense considering this is a unique commodity that will have different challenges than other typical agriculture commodities in the state would,” Noem said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no amendments to the bill have been filed.

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