Legislation to legalize and regulate hemp in South Dakota was passed unanimously on Thursday bu its initial House committee. The measure must now be passed by the full House of Representatives and then the Senate before it can be sent to the governor for final consideration.
Last year Governor Kristi Noem (R) vetoed a bill that would have allowed industrial hemp last year, saying it could lead to full marijuana legalization. She had threatened to veto the issue again this year, but recently changed her mind.
According to the AP, Noem said she still doesn’t think industrial hemp is a good idea, but her office worked with legislators to craft the bill this year and she spoke in favor of the bill before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee. She wants the hemp program to be regulated by “four guardrails” that would provide for the program’s enforcement, regulation, transportation permitting, and funding.
House Majority Leader Lee Qualm (R) introduced the bill
Representative Herman Otten (R) told the AP the state would need to pay for testing and regulating hemp anyway because the state cannot stop it from being transported through the state. Several Indian tribes in the state are also planning to grow hemp. Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the increased volume of hemp would require new testing equipment that the state’s labs don’t currently have. “Qualm remained positive about finding the funding and said he thinks farmers could begin growing hemp this year. The state’s plan would still need to be approved by the Department of Agriculture.”
The measure calls for a maximum fee of $500 to apply for a license to grow hemp, $2,000 to apply for a processing license and $25 for a permit to transport it.