South Dakota Gets Funds for Hemp Program, Bill Clears Another Hurdle

South Dakota Gets Funds for Hemp Program, Bill Clears Another Hurdle

Hemp production is on the fast track to be legalized in South Dakota, one of three states where the crop isn't currently legal.

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March 12, 2020

After months of debates, delays and draft revisions, South Dakota is one step closer to reaching a resolution that would legalize hemp production. But time is running short.

Lawmakers from the House and Senate approved the latest version of the state’s hemp bill May 11, reports the Jamestown Sun. The bill, House Bill 1008, outlines regulations for hemp growth and production.

It now heads to the Senate for final approval before hitting the governor's desk. March 12 is the final day for lawmakers in the state to either pass, amend or reject bills before they head to the governor. The bill has an emergency clause that would allow it to go into effect immediately. 

The bill has gone through several iterations to appease lawmakers in the state, especially Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who was initially outspoken in her opposition to hemp but conceded earlier this year and said she’d be willing to pass the bill—as long as it contained certain provisions.

One of those provisions was a plan to “responsibly” pay for the program, which has been a contentious topic among state lawmakers. 

Noem and lawmakers recently proposed significantly different cost estimates for starting up a hemp program. Three governor department heads estimated the start-up cost will be nearly $1.9 million and the ongoing annual expenses would be $1.6 million, while the Legislative Research Council estimated it would cost about $80,000 for start-up and $165,000 for ongoing annual expenses.

But those disputes were resolved March 9, when the governor announced the state would have room to allocate $3.5 million in the state budget to start an industrial hemp program, reports the Associated Press.

Noem is expected to approve the bill. South Dakota’s legislative session for the year ends March 30. 

The state is currently just one of three in the country that doesn’t allow farmers to legally grow hemp (the other two are Mississippi and Idaho)