South Dakota Legalizes Hemp Cultivation

South Dakota Legalizes Hemp Cultivation

After more than a year of debating the details and logistics, hemp is finally legal in the state, though the coronavirus may affect funding.

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March 30, 2020

South Dakota, once just one of three states that outlawed hemp cultivation, has finally legalized the crop.

On March 27, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed H.B. 1008 into law, which outlines regulations for hemp growth and production and allocates $3.5 million to create an industrial program.

But approving budgets in the age of a pandemic comes with a catch: that money may soon need to be reallocated to ward off COVID-19

“At the moment, it is unknown how much relief the federal stimulus bills will give to South Dakotans. I’m signing these 15 bills with one caveat — we may need to come back in June and make drastic changes to both the current budget and next year’s fiscal year budget,” Noem said in a statement following the passage of a hemp bill, among others. “As we receive further guidance from the federal government on what resources may be available to us, I will provide updates to the legislature and the public.”

Noem has called for a special session in June to address budget issues, reports the Argus Leader. But for now, lawmakers and farmers can relish in the victory—if only briefly—of passing a law that’s been more than a year in the making. 

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

The new law contained an emergency provision, meaning it goes into effect immediately. However, producers must wait to grow hemp until the state’s plan has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which could happen as late as June, the Argus Leader reports.

Mississippi and Idaho are now the sole two states in the country where hemp production is illegal.