Longtime hemp critic launches national attack, saying plant won’t help farmers

A South Dakota politician who opposes hemp cultivation is taking her argument national just as federal agriculture authorities are expected to release national production rules.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem wrote in a column published in The Wall Street Journal that many states have legalized hemp to as a savior for struggling farmers but that “hemp isn’t that crop.”

She also argues that law enforcement is being strained in states with legal hemp cultivation by the inability to differentiate hemp from THC-bearing marijuana.

Noem vetoed a hemp-cultivation bill earlier this year and has long argued against the crop’s legalization, saying it is a move toward legalizing marijuana.

Hemp was made legal nationwide in the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized cannabis varieties with no more than 0.3% THC.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was charged with writing a framework for telling the difference between hemp and marijuana. Those rules have not yet been released.

The Farm Bill gives states the right to ban hemp cultivation if they wish. But at least 47 states have authorized cultivation, either in limited testing programs or by allowing commercial cultivation.

Only Idaho, Mississippi and South Dakota allow no forms of hemp cultivation or experimentation. Several more states have authorized hemp production but not until after the USDA sets national rules for growing it.