|Earlier this summer, Governor Kristi Noem submitted a list of 315 questions to House and Senate leadership involved in a summer hemp study. During a session in Pierre today, Noem’s administration will urge legislators to carefully consider the unknowns surrounding industrial hemp.
“When it comes to industrial hemp, we still have more questions than we have answers,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “Other states are struggling to implement their industrial hemp laws. As leaders, we must have answers to how any new law will be implemented effectively and how it will impact our state.”
“As a lifelong farmer and rancher, I would be thrilled to lead the charge in introducing a new crop that might bolster markets and support producers during this difficult season,” Noem continued. “Industrial hemp, however, is surrounded by many question marks. It could be reckless to introduce a product that has serious implications on the health and safety of the next generation. I strongly urge the legislature to consider the questions around hemp. Let’s work together to find the answers to these questions and the solutions to these problems.”
Governor Noem’s submitted questions urge the lawmakers to consider issues surrounding agriculture and processing, laboratory testing, pharmacy and pharmacology, controlled substance laws, and law enforcement.
“By its very nature, hemp will never be a simple agriculture commodity. In all the conversations I’ve had with farmers and ranchers, industry experts, legislators, and state staff, I always walk away with more questions than I have answers,” said Kim Vanneman, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture. “Across the country, states are grappling with real questions about how to ensure producers are in compliance with state and federal laws; how to deal with processing of hemp and the byproducts that result from that processing, including THC; consumer protection when it comes to hemp derived products; and much more. We cannot overlook the uncertainty surrounding hemp. We just don’t have good answers yet. We have more work to do.”
“The more we study this issue, the more concerns I have for the impact on public safety,” said Craig Price, South Dakota Secretary of Public Safety. “Law enforcement is already stretched thin in our state, and legalizing hemp would extend our resources even further. It would have a negative impact on our drug fighting efforts in South Dakota.”
Earlier this year, South Dakota Highway Patrol officers conducted a test in the Capitol where a drug dog alerted the same way to both hemp and marijuana. Watch the video here.
“In the end, our concerns come down to the safety of our citizens and the future of my kids and your kids,” Price continued. “There are too many questions surrounding this issue that should make us pause, wait for further guidance, work together to find solutions, and learn from the experiences of other states. We must not do anything that could threaten the next generation.”
Price’s comments reflect challenges other states have seen since legalizing industrial hemp. On July 31, 2019, industrial hemp was legalized in Ohio. According to WBNS, a Columbus news organization, top law enforcement officers said that legalizing industrial hemp accidentally legalized marijuana.
“Now we have to be able to distinguish the difference between hemp and marijuana,” said Jason Pappas, Vice President of the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police. “That is not possible for a human being to do, that has to be done through crime analysis.”
The problem is, most, if not all, crime labs in Ohio can only detect the presence of THC, not the quantity of it.
That includes the Columbus police lab and BCI state crime lab.
“Until these testing requirements are fixed and until we get some additional training and resources available to us, it’s going to be very difficult to go after any marijuana cases in Ohio,” he said.
Glenn McEntyre: “What’s the end result of that, effectively?”
Jason Pappas: “You legalized marijuana in Ohio for a time being.” (WBNS, August 8, 2019)
Texas also legalized and regulated hemp and its derivatives earlier this year. The Texas Department of Public Safety’s crime lab director told legislators that that their crime labs were unable to distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana. The Texas Tribune reports that those “warnings fell flat.”
“Largely absent from legislative discussions were concerns over the hemp law affecting the practicability of prosecuting marijuana cases unrelated to hemp farming… Yet it wasn’t just Mills who outlined the problem prosecutors would have distinguishing hemp from marijuana. Other states and the federal government have already run into similar issues. DPS repeatedly told state budget officials the hemp bill would come with a hefty price tag for additional drug testing in marijuana cases. And a Houston crime lab employee told King’s office that without funds to allow for new lab testing, the legislation would “essentially legalize marijuana.” (Texas Tribune, July 30, 2019)
“If Governor Noem and the legislature wouldn’t have taken the position they did with the hemp bill earlier this year, we would certainly be facing these issues right here in South Dakota,” concluded Price.
“South Dakota must lead by example. Let’s learn from the mistakes of other states and find these answers together before we commit to something we don’t know everything about. The safety and health of the next generation is worth finding these answers,” Noem concluded.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has expressed its concern about the health and safety of non-prescription industrial hemp, specifically CBD, and is only in the early stages of developing regulations to protect the public. The United Stated Department of Agriculture is expected to release federal guidelines for industrial hemp production this fall.