The governor of a US state has blasted the legalisation of hemp – claiming it ‘essentially legalises marijuana’.
South Dakota’s Kristi Noem says legal hemp will make it difficult for police to enforce cannabis laws. Hemp is legal in 47 states, but not in South Dakota.
In a column for the Argus Leader, the Republican says that while she supports farmers, legalising the potentially lucrative crop of industrial hemp “legalises marijuana by default”.
She wrote: “Across the country, states are dealing with issues surrounding the enforcement of marijuana laws because hemp and marijuana look the same and smell the same.
“Police officers are unable to distinguish between hemp and marijuana on the road, essentially legalising marijuana.
“Legalising industrial hemp weakens drug laws. It hurts law enforcement. It’s a step backward.”
Noem cites a recent case where a truck driver transporting hundreds of pounds of hemp to Minnesota from Colorado was arrested in South Dakota and charged with marijuana possession.
She added: “South Dakota already faces a drug problem. Families continue to be ripped apart by substance abuse.
“I realise this position might not be popular, but that’s not why I’m taking it. As a governor who has said I will make every decision with the next generation in mind, I cannot sit by.”
Last month the Argus Leader ran an editorial slamming Noem’s stance on hemp.
It said: “The state would be better served if Noem and her administration showed flexibility on a rapidly growing industry that has little effect on public safety compared to top-tier drug concerns such as opioids and meth.
“At a time when many South Dakota farmers and ranchers are feeling the pinch, it’s notable that a governor who ran on agricultural awareness would snuff out a potential revenue source due to a misplaced concern over drug enforcement.”
There is a lot of confusion surrounding CBD in the US. Most cannabidiol products were made legal by December’s ‘Farm Bill’.
But there is an ongoing dispute over a state law that makes CBD oils and lotions an illegal narcotic in South Dakota.