PIERRE, S.D. — A bill that would legalize the growth and production of industrial hemp and derivative products in South Dakota was passed Thursday, Feb. 6, in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Lawmakers approved an amendment to House Bill 1008, which cleaned up licensing requirements and fees during the meeting as well.
The bill meets three of Governor Kristi Noem’s “guardrails,” according to Katie Hruska, deputy general counsel for the Governor’s Office.
“The legislative summer study met several times throughout the course of the summer and came up with a really good framework for growing hemp in South Dakota,” Hruska said. “Just before session we issued four guardrails, the bill as amended contains three of the four guardrails. The fourth guardrail needs to be addressed during the budget process.”
Hruska said the estimated cost of legalizing hemp in South Dakota would be $3.5 million. That total includes both one time and ongoing costs, Hruska said.
During a press conference Thursday, Feb. 6, Noem said her position on hemp hasn’t changed. “I still don’t think it’s a good idea for South Dakota,” Noem said.
Noem said that the difference between last year’s hemp bill, which she vetoed, and this year’s is that HB 1008 addresses most of her guardrails and that the United States Department of Agriculture has since provided rules of guidance.
Funding is going to be something that legislators need to address, Noem said.
“It’s going to cost our state money, so I asked them to make sure that in their budgeting process that they do that as well,” Noem said.
Noem said that the state can only pass a hemp program if they show the federal government how it will be funded.
Kara Semmler with the governor’s office also noted that law enforcement will have great discretion when determining whether someone would be criminally charged if their hemp crop tests higher for THC than allowed.
“If the evidence shows that the individual was intending to grow hemp, there’s no intent to charge that person with a crime,” Semmler said.
“If the evidence was to indicate that the person was trying to grow marijuana that’s illegal and remains illegal.”
State Rep. Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade, said a hemp crop can be destroyed by burning it, killing it with chemicals or taking it out mechanically.
Lesmeister noted that destroyed hemp crops can be used to improve soil health since the hemp plant helps build microbes in the soil.
HB 1008 will now go to the House floor after being passed through committee on an 11-0 vote.