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The Latest: Panel OKs hemp bill over governor’s opposition

February 28, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The Latest on a bill to legalize industrial hemp in South Dakota (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

A Senate panel has approved a bill to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in South Dakota despite heavy pressure from Gov. Kristi Noem.

The Senate agriculture committee voted 7-2 Thursday to send the bill to the floor, one step from the Republican governor’s desk. Democratic Rep. Oren Lesmeister, the sponsor, says the bill would allow South Dakota farmers and ranchers to keep up with the demand and expansion of the industrial hemp industry.

Noem has asked that lawmakers hold off on legalizing hemp this year, saying the state isn’t ready.

A series of administration officials urged the committee to oppose the measure during a dramatic hearing that included a Highway Patrol official showing members evidence bags of hemp and marijuana and a video of a drug detection dog in the Capitol flagging a pan of hemp.

Department of Public Safety Secretary Craig Price says officials believe allowing hemp cultivation would come with a multi-million dollar price tag and lead to another push to legalize marijuana in South Dakota.

Noem has stopped short of threatening a veto. The 2018 federal farm bill legalized cultivation of industrial hemp nationally.

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8:32 a.m.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s request that lawmakers hold off on legalizing industrial hemp is about to be tested.

The Senate agriculture committee is to debate a bill Thursday to allow hemp cultivation. The Republican governor says the state isn’t ready.

The hearing was scheduled for earlier this month, but the governor’s office sought a delay so that more information including a fiscal analysis could be put together for lawmakers.

Noem has asked legislators during two press conferences to set aside the legislation this session, though she’s stopped short of threatening a veto. The House voted 65-2 for the bill just days after she first asked.

The 2018 federal farm bill legalized cultivation of industrial hemp. Supporters say there’s an industry ready in South Dakota to start processing hemp products.

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