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     Hemp: “I believe if we move ahead with industrial hemp and we aren’t prepared with it from a regulatory standpoint, from an enforcement standpoint, if we don’t have the equipment and dollars to do this correctly, we will be opening the door to allowing marijuana to be legalized in the state of South Dakota.” – Gov. Kristi Noem

As shopping malls go, it was very much like the Empire in Sioux Falls or the Rushmore in Rapid City.

Lots of shiny white tile on the floor, bustling businesses and people everywhere.

It was Sunday afternoon in the Galleria in Glendale, Ca.

We were visiting my daughter and her family and, of course, a trip to the mall was mandatory.

There was one major difference, though, and I spotted it quickly. In the middle of a main corridor, next to Haagen-Dazs and Cinnabon, stood a tall, glass enclosed kiosk with this large sign next to the entry  — “CBD for All” — emblazoned across the top. In smaller words underneath were all the maladies that the CBD could fix, including anxiety, sleep disorders, skin ailments, and pain of various kinds.

In short, a miracle drug.

There were four or five employees inside the glass partitions and business was brisk.

I paused to check on the products. “Unwind” is a sleep blend and very popular. It’s a cream but also comes in a fragrance oil, as well. Just roll it on.

“Our products are imported from Canada,” the clerk said proudly, as if that gave the various jars and cans the imprimatur of quality.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration endorsed CBD for medicinal use and most states are now selling to consumers who say it helps their arthritis, aching muscles and even is beneficial for some forms of childhood epilepsy.

To be clear, it is CBD from hemp that is approved, not that of marijuana. Although hemp and marijuana are both members of the cannabis family, hemp contains just trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, the hallucinogenic component that potheads crave.

Last legislative session, lawmakers tried to legalize the growing of hemp, but Gov. Kristi Noem would have none of it, saying the state wasn’t ready to regulate it.

Regardless if you agree with her or not, legalization of hemp is inevitable. South Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho are the only three states remaining that restrict hemp use.

A larger concern is that legalization of hemp would open the door to legalization of medical marijuana. No, they are not the same, but as barriers come down so does resistance. Even now, 10 states allow medical and recreational marijuana use. History indicates that once medical marijuana is approved, recreational marijuana isn’t far behind.

Will legalization of hemp let Mary Jane run wild?  Stay tuned.

July 31, 2019