Despite Governor Noem’s objection, South Dakota lawmakers move to legalize hemp

After failing last year, South Dakota's Legislature is preparing a new bill to legalize cultivation of hemp. (Adrian Cable/CC BY-SA 2.0)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota lawmakers are writing a bill to legalize industrial hemp in 2020, despite the governor's stated plan to veto it.

The Argus Leader reports that the legislative Hemp Study Committee is working from a failed 2019 bill.

The committee met Monday for the first time since Gov. Kristi Noem said she would veto the bill because law enforcement can't differentiate between hemp and marijuana.

Rep. Lee Qualm of Platte says the committee will finish the bill after the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its hemp program guidelines. The 2018 Farm Bill places hemp regulation under the department's oversight.

The bill would require owner-operators to secure state permits and undergo background checks before they can grow hemp. Possession of hemp without a permit can lead to a felony charge.

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