Just hours Monday after the House voted 58-8 for a bill that would have allowed farmers to grow industrial hemp and businesses to process it, Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed the measure, saying it "supports a national effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use."
"South Dakota must stand as an example for the rest of the country, not simply go along with others. Our focus must be on leading for South Dakota’s next generation. Our state is not yet ready for industrial hemp," she said in a news release.
The Noem administration has pushed against House Bill 1191 since it cleared its first legislative hurdle, unanimously passing the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee on Feb. 7. Since then, the bill in its original form passed the House by a 65-2 vote on Feb. 11, and an amended version passed the Senate by a 21-14 vote on March 6.
With the House's concurrence on the bill's final version, HB 1191 moved to Noem's desk. Following Monday's vote, spokesperson Kristin Wileman said Noem "still has profound concerns about the legislation" and is reviewing the bill before making a final decision.
In her veto message, Noem said it was a "poorly drafted bill that changes the definition of marijuana with little regard for the implications elsewhere in our Code." The governor went on to say "there is no question in my mind that normalizing hemp, like legalizing medical marijuana, is part of a larger strategy to undermine enforcement of the drug laws and make legalized marijuana inevitable."
Noem said at a February news conference that the state Department of Health has concerns on the legalization of hemp-derived CBD oil, which is sometimes used as a homeopathic remedy, and that the Department of Public Safety is concerned about enforcement, with no field tests currently available to test THC levels during traffic stops.
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Noem's office wrote a hoghouse amendment to address these concerns and Noem said if the amendment was adopted, she'd consider signing the bill. According to HB 1191 prime sponsor Rep. Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade, the amendment ultimately adopted had "close to 90 percent" of what Noem's team proposed.
After the Senate adopted the amendment on March 5, Lesmeister said the administration switched course, saying the bill was worse off with the amendment than it was before.
“I think the governor just doesn’t want the bill. Period,” he said. “No matter what we put in it, she’s not going to want the bill.”
If Noem vetoes it, House Speaker Lee Qualm, R-Platte, has said that he would attempt to override the veto. The House has the votes — a two-thirds majority — to do so. Unless three senators have a change of heart, the Senate does not.