Pierre, S.D. – A legislative committee in South Dakota has approved a bill that would legalize industrial hemp. The House Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee unanimously voted to pass House Bill 1008, which would regulate cultivation and transportation of hemp. The bill will proceed to the House floor for a full vote.
A previous hemp bill was passed by the House but subsequently vetoed by Governor Kristi Noem last year. In September, she seemed to dig in her heels and threatened to veto any other hemp legalization bills that made it to her desk, claiming industrial hemp could open the door for cannabis legalization.
However, Noem seems to have softened her stance on the issue. Although she claims her position has not changed, Noem has signaled a strong possibility that she will not veto HB 1008.
“I’m hopeful that we get to a point where there’s a bill that responsibly addresses the program, and then I’ll consider signing it,” Noem said.
HB 1008 is an overhaul of the previous legislation vetoed by Noem and, as such, Representative Oren Lesmeister believes state lawmakers have “come 10,000 miles forward” on the new bill. Lesmeister said the new legislation keeps the intentions of the initial bill alive. “The intent to produce and process hemp is there,” he said.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Lee Qualm, said lawmakers worked in tandem with the Governor’s office to write the legislation and that they produced a “really, really good bill.”
When it comes to funding a potential hemp program however, legislators may not want to rely on the governor. Noem did not allocate any money for a legal hemp program in her 2021 budget as she did not see it as a priority that aligned with her views.
“I did not take money out of those programs to put into a hemp program. Now, if the legislators want to do that and move money to prioritize this, then that is the legislative process,” Noem said. “They need to fund it and fund it responsibly if we’re going to move forward.”