Attorney General announces that Hemp derived CBD oil is still illegal in South Dakota – causes confusion for local businessmen


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The owner of the Hemporium in Rapid City read the attorney general’s proclamation about CBD oil and hemp, he was surprised. Jason Ravnsborg wrote that “CBD oil and hemp remains illegal in South Dakota” but also writes that just “industrial hemp illegal and all forms of CBD oil illegal.”

Leonard Vandermate of the Hemporium said that this press release was extremely “so detrimental to so many businesses.” He said that customers have been curious about the product ever since the federal law made hemp derived CBD legal for recreational and medicinal purposes. An older woman called him enquiring whether she would be in trouble for buying a hemp made purse.

The release was titled, “Attorney General Ravnsborg clarifies questions regarding industrial hemp and CBD (cannabidiol oil),” which was quite confusing said Vandermate. He further said that while Ravnsborg has explicitly shared his opinion about the substance, he failed to share enough information on what laws he is relying upon and his legal analysis.

It was announced post the release that if anyone has any further questions, they should reach out to Ravnsborg’s office, local prosecutor or the local law enforcement body. After the release, Vandermate called the Attorney General’s office to clarify things and spoke with the assistant Attorney General, Bridget Mayer. She told him about the laws Ravnsborg used to make his decision and recommended to reach out to his local state attorney’s office.

Vandermate called Mark Vargo, the Pennington County State’s Attorney on Monday for some more information. Vargo said that he was himself unclear and dubious about the legality of hemp derived CBD oil.

Vargo said, “At this point, I have not been convinced that we can prosecute those cases,” in an email to the Journal. In a follow up phone call the attorney said that he is not convinced about the legality of the drug and said, “It’s most fair to say that I have not made up my mind one way or the other.”

According to South Dakota Public Broadcasting, a man was recently arrested and charged by prosecutors for possession of hemp derived CBD oil at the Sioux Falls airport  in Minnehaha County. Vargo said that he too learned about Ravnsborg’s ideas about hemp and CBD oil at the time of the press release and plans to meet with the attorney to properly understand his stance.

While the Senate Bill 22 Epidiolex – a FDA approved cannabis derived CBD oil can be used to treat seizures and rare forms of epilepsy – when prescribed, he said it did not alter the state’s stringent regulations on marijuana.

Another relevant context is the Farm bill that was passed in 2018 which says no state or tribe can hinder legally produced hemp from being transported through their jurisdictions. The farm bill also labelled hemp as a regular commodity like soybeans or corns.

Bormann says that South Dakota will stand strong on its stand with respect to marijuana – it is illegal, and the confusion amidst the federal law, the FDA and the state’s laws is something that will be sorted at an agency to agency level.

Vargo said that he needs to investigate more and delve in various laws to understand their historical context and how they relate to one another. He says that even if his officials decide not to prosecute CBD oil cases, Ravansborg’s officials can intervene in the area and charge anyone for possession of CBD oil or hemp.

Ravnsborg said on radio that he has been giving frequent reminders to nutritionists that CBD oil is illegal in the state, SDPB reported. Vandermate pulled hemp derived CBD oils from the front shelves of Hemporium last fall after the law enforcement, thus giving an ultimatum to stop selling the products.

While companies fall at loss due to the ambiguity about hemp derived CBD oil, consumers curiosity grows about the difference in the judgements made by the federal law and the state law. Vandermate and other business leaders hope for a positive clarification regarding this confusion, till then CBD and hemp remains illegal in South Dakota.



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