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Lesmeister Ready Again to Challenge Noem’s Unreasonable Resistance to Hemp

Representative Oren Lesmeister (D-28A/Parade) says the only way to legalize industrial hemp in South Dakota will be through overriding Governor Kristi Noem’s stubborn veto:

Democrat State Representative Oren Lesmeister of Corson/Dewey will be one of the prime movers for legalizing hemp in the 2020 State Legislature.

“I don’t know if we will ever get her to be a believer in it. I think she is pretty set in her ways. She’s planted her feet” [Mark Russo, “Getting on His Horse Again for Hemp in 2020,” KELO Radio, 2019.11.12].

Rep. Lesmeister maintains that one of Noem’s main stated excuses for standing in the way of freedom to farm a federally approved crop is bunk:

Noem is concerned that legalizing hemp could cause problems for law enforcement. Lesmeister tells Kelo Radio It’s Your Business Show with Bill Zortman that that is just not so.

“We have talked to so many other states who have been doing this for four or five years and they’re getting along just plumb fine” [Russo, 2019.11.12].

We’ve already seen Governor Noem’s embarrassingly inaccurate claims about hemp roundly debunked. Yes, law enforcement does have to take extra steps to distinguish industrial hemp for smokin’ weed, but that’s nothing that a little education and regulation can’t solve. One simple regulation would be issuing special licenses for transportation of hemp. If Duke the Drug Dog barks at your trunk and you don’t have a hemp transport license, you get a ticket and the state confiscates your cargo. Representative Lesmeister’s hemp bill last session provided for a rule-making process that could have set reasonable parameters for hauling and handling hemp while maintaining restrictions on marijuana, if that’s what we really want.

But rational rule-making does not appear to interest our Governor. Sensible lawmakers like Representative Lesmeister will just have to plow through the Governor’s irrational prejudices and forge reasonable public policy on their own.


  1. Porter Lansing 2019-11-14

    “I have spoken!” – Kuiil (Ugnaught vapor farmer) from The Mandalorian

  2. Timothy Even 2019-11-14

    Maybe Oren should let a republican prime this bill, it’s been my experience as a former lobbyist that good ideas offered by democratic lawmakers often fail only to be brought back by republicans the very next year and passed. Frank Klouchek could probably give many examples of this. Might not persuade Noem but could get a few more senators for a veto override.

  3. bearcreekbat 2019-11-14

    The excuse that if hemp is legalized law enforcement will “have to take extra steps to distinguish industrial hemp [from] smokin’ weed” has already run its course. Even Noem has finally acknowledged the federal law that prohibits States from interfering with the interstate transportation of hemp.

    . . . The guidelines do require the State to permit interstate transportation of hemp. My team is working to ensure we have proper procedures in place so this doesn’t become something that weakens our drug laws. . . .

    Thus whether or not SD legalizes hemp law, enforcement no longer can willy nilly stop, search, arrest and confiscate the cargo of anyone without some prior reliable factual basis that creates reasonable suspicion the cargo contains more THC than permitted by federal guidelines.

  4. mike from iowa 2019-11-14

    so this doesn’t become something that weakens our drug laws. . . .

    weakens our revenue stream.

    Fixed it for her.

  5. grudznick 2019-11-14

    Mr. Owen is among the least intelligent in the legislatures. This will be the season his fiendishness for the demon weed hits the newspapers.

    Bob is a fiend but he owns it. Owen has not yet com to grips.

  6. Debbo 2019-11-14

    Timothy is probably right about letting a GOPer carry the bill. In the small and petty mind of the SDGOP, only their bills are allowed to succeed, needs of South Dakotans be damned!

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-16

    BCB, does that mean states can’t require hemp transport licenses?

  8. Debbo 2019-11-17

    This is what is happening with hemp in Minnesota:

    The number of licensed hemp growers in the state grew from 51 to 540 in 2019, most of them growing the crop for production of cannabidiol (CBD), the nonpsychoactive cousin of marijuana’s high-inducing component. CBD is a trendy wellness product, and 5-gram bottles of the stuff can retail for as much as $390.

    Steven Brown, CEO of Nothing But Hemp, one of a handful of hemp-oil processors and retailers that have popped up in the Twin Cities in recent years, said hemp farming is a profitable option for small farmers.

    Craft hemp producers typically cultivate between 10 and 40 acres, he said, and can generate $15,000 to $30,000 in revenue per acre if they are growing the crop for CBD oil, grow the right strains and find the right processor.

    “If they’re growing for craft CBD, I think it’s a really good opportunity for smaller farmers,” Brown said. “These small craft farmers will be able to be agile enough to provide the right strains for processors like me.”

    For Kirschenmann, hemp farming is one example of the type of alternative crop that could be the “beginnings of a transition” away from corn and soybeans.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-17

    Low end: ten acres generates $150K. How much does it cost to cultivate that crop? Do I need a big combine or other heavy capital to operate?

  10. jerry 2019-11-17

    The big money would be in some minor changes in processing the CBD into honey. Let Minnesota grow the CBD and we can process it into CBD honey for the big money. To much work to grow hemp (and we know how we hate to work), so let Minnesota do all that while we watch the bees work to produce the honey. Added bonus, honey is subsidized as it should bee. Without bees, we be dead. South Dakota ranks between 1st and 5th in honey production. Booyah!

    By processing the CBD honey, South Dakota could then benefit from the cutting back on farming pesticides as well as maybe having soil banks reappear as habitat for the bees. Better habitat, more game birds and hunting. More of that, more additional money for the tax base.

  11. bearcreekbat 2019-11-17

    Cory, I haven’t seen the text of federal rules relating to the transportation of hemp, but from what I have read I saw no requirement that someone possess or display a licence or authorization during a transport.

    The only requirement seems to be that one has been issued the licence to grow and has grown the hemp pursuant to the terms of the authorization.

    And as a practical matter, displaying a licence doesn’t even demonstrate that the crop being transported was the hemp authorized by that licence.

    My best guess is that States cannot arrest a transporter merely for failure to carry or show a licence to grow hemp. I would now argue law enforcement needs some other basis to establish either reasonable suspicion or probable cause that the crop being transported was not lawfully grown. I would further contend that mere observation and/or smell are no longer sufficient to overcome the constitutional limitations to search or arrest. Thus, Noem’s arguments against hemp legalization in South Dakota seem factually unsupportable given these recent changes in federal law. It will be interesting to see if our courts agree or disagree with this analysis.

  12. Porter Lansing 2019-11-17

    Personal Anecdote … I’ve just ended a thirty day experiment with CBD. I’ve been ingesting 20mg of CBD every day. I’ve noticed zero change in my neuropathy, sleeplessness or joint pain. You know, all the normal stuff old men have. 30 doses cost me $50. I won’t buy more. Just sayin’.
    (My daughter is a palliative care nurse and has a patient who takes 200mg of CBD a day and has good results with her neuropathy. That’s way too expensive for me when I can use Gabapentin for neuropathy (if it gets bad). Gabapentin costs $3.50 for 90 capsules through Medicare.)

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-18

    Porter, thank you for your commitment to science and sensible drug purchases.

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