Dear Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives,
I respectfully return to you House Bill 1191, with my VETO. House Bill 1191 is an Act to legalize
the growth, production, and processing of industrial hemp and derivative products in the state.
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
Foremost among the many defects of this bill are the challenges it creates for law enforcement. HB
1191 complicates law enforcement searches and provides a ready-made defense for those breaking
our drug laws. This poorly drafted bill changes the definition of marijuana with little regard for the
implications elsewhere in our Code. It would create uncertainty for prosecution under our ingestion
statute because the source of THC is placed in doubt when industrial hemp products that contain
small amounts of THC, such as cannabidiol or CBD, are legalized. As Governor, I will not leave
it to our courts to interpret how this bill impacts our prohibition on the active ingredient in
marijuana, and I do not believe the Legislature intended to complicate enforcement of our ingestion
statute in this way.
Although proponents claim hemp has a wide variety of uses, the legislative debate makes it clear that
this bill is less about helping farmers and more about commercial interest in one product: CBD. No
other type of hemp producer or processor retained paid lobbyists this Session. HB 1191 rejected
critical parts of the amendment my Administration discussed with the bill's sponsors. It would
instead allow the immediate, widespread production and use of CBD, as well as other hemp
derivatives, even though the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") has yet to approve them as safe
for therapeutic use or for interstate commerce. In fact, the FDA has not yet begun its regulatory
process on hemp derivatives, including CBD. South Dakota should be guided by the FDA on these
issues, not special interests.
As I first stated many weeks ago, HB 1191 is premature. There is no urgent problem requiring an
immediate solution this session. Until the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA") issues its own
rules, the regular growth and interstate transport of hemp cannot begin. No industrial hemp will
cross into South Dakota without those rules, which USDA has announced it will not issue until late
2019. We have no way of knowing today what those rules will require. What limited structure HB
1191 does create to regulate industrial hemp in our state could very well be in conflict.
Finally, I am concerned that this bill supports a national effort to legalize marijuana for recreational
use. I do not doubt the motives of this bill's legislative champions. However, an overwhelming
number of contacts I have received in favor of this bill come from pro-marijuana activists. 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.
For these reasons, I oppose this bill and ask that you sustain my veto.