PIERRE, S.D. — Legislation that would legalize hemp production in South Dakota has been studied, drafted, edited, debated then changed some more throughout the past year, but must survive another round of judgement in the Senate on Thursday, March 12.
That’s the final day for lawmakers to pass, amend or kill legislation that aren’t vetoed bills.
Three lawmakers from the House and three from the Senate approved a revision of the bill on Wednesday, March 11, that included the amount in funding requested by Gov. Kristi Noem during a Conference Committee meeting.
House Bill 1008 sets forth state regulations that detail hemp production regulations and what farmers will need to do to remain compliant.
Noem is expected to approve the bill if it reaches her desk. The bill's emergency clause allows the legislation to become state law immediately after getting Noem's signature of approval.
Hemp operations would need to be grown outdoors on at least five continuous acres. No indoor growing is allowed at this point.
All plants need to have a THC content of 0.03% or less. If tests determine that the plants exceed this level, they can be retested. If the second test shows the hemp plant still has a content over the allowed THC amounts, the crop must be destroyed.
The South Dakota Department of Public Safety will handle the inspections.
Licenses will be required for the growing and transporting of hemp. Processors will also require a license.
The state will need to have the program approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, which will take at least 60 days to be approved from the submission date.
The USDA announced on March 6 the approval of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe’s hemp production program, which is located in South Dakota.
Tribes and states are allowed to submit hemp production plans under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.
Noem required state lawmakers to meet four “guardrails” within the hemp bill or else the attempt to legalize hemp would be vetoed, like Noem did to last year’s hemp bill.
The only hangup in the final days of this year’s legislative session that delayed the bill reaching Noem’s desk has been a funding disagreement.
Noem’s estimates were greater than what other lawmakers thought implementation of the hemp program would cost, but in the end Noem’s estimates were included in the latest form of the bill that came out of a conference committee meeting Wednesday, March 11.
The costs include:
$36,586 to the state Department of Agriculture
$705,700 to the state Department of Health
$1.157 million to the state Department of Public Safety
The total hemp program cost is approximately $3.5 million.
Any leftover funds allocated to the hemp program implementation will be deposited back into the state’s general fund.
The Senate will decide to send the bill to Noem’s desk or kill it during session Thursday, March 12.