AP NEWS

Hemp, drug laws set for legislative studies in South Dakota

April 24, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota lawmakers during next year’s legislative session will revisit whether to legalize hemp and will consider the state’s drug laws and access to mental health treatment.

The Legislature’s Executive Board on Tuesday finalized the topics for this summer’s interim legislative studies, which take place every year while legislators are not in session. The lawmakers look at data and testimony from field experts to see how the Legislature could improve laws when it reconvenes the following session.

The study on industrial hemp will look at the impact of legalizing the production of the crop in South Dakota and the costs to law enforcement, The Rapid City Journal reported. The Legislature passed a bill to legalize hemp last month, but Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed it.

Rep. Oren Lesmeister, the House Minority Whip who introduced the bill this year, will be one of 11 legislators on the hemp study.

The executive board also voted to establish a subcommittee of five legislators to study the state’s problem with methamphetamine addiction and treatment.

The subcommittee falls under a bigger study involving 15 legislators who will study alternatives to imprisonment for drug offenses, treatment options for addiction and the fiscal impact to state and local governments for incarcerating drug offenders. House Speaker Rep. Steven Haugaard will chair that study.

Board members also appointed 20 legislators to serve on five task forces, which will each examine different aspects of mental health treatment accessibility in the state.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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