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SD Senate plans to reconsider hemp plan after bill’s failure

March 5, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota senators plan to reconsider a bill to legalize industrial hemp after the measure failed Tuesday on the chamber’s floor.

The 21-14 vote fell short of the two-thirds margin required to pass the bill. Supporters used a procedural move to revive it and schedule debate for Wednesday.

Gov. Kristi Noem has asked that lawmakers hold off on legalizing hemp this year, saying the state isn’t ready. Republican Sen. Jordan Youngberg, a bill co-sponsor, said it would give South Dakota farmers the opportunity to discover another market.

“Why stifle the market that could potentially be there?” Youngberg said.

The Republican governor said Friday that the bill “gravely concerns” her, but she stopped short of threatening to veto the proposal. Noem said she’s worried that drug detection dogs flag hemp like marijuana and that the plants look alike.

South Dakota has time because federal guidelines aren’t expected until fall, she said.

Republican Sen. Bob Ewing said there are inspections, transportation and other unknown consequences that must be resolved before the bill should be considered. Senate Majority Leader Kris Langer said the bill is premature and “risks a shift in culture with no going back.”

The measure overwhelmingly passed through the House. Senators approved changes to the bill that Youngberg said were based on a proposal from Noem’s office.

The alterations include broader background check requirements, giving more rulemaking authority to state agencies and restricting who could transport industrial hemp. The changes also require hemp to be grown outdoors.

The 2018 federal farm bill legalized cultivation of industrial hemp nationally. Supporters contend planting hemp wouldn’t even happen until 2020 under the bill, which defines industrial hemp as containing no more than 0.3 percent THC.

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