As S.D. agencies get rules ready, lawmaker praises approval of industrial hemp plan

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved South Dakota’s industrial-hemp program pleases a state legislator who had a front-seat role fighting for it.

Representative Oren Lesmeister sponsored the 2019 bill that the Legislature passed but Governor Kristi Noem vetoed. The Legislature’s Executive Board assigned a special committee, chaired by House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte. The panel’s 2020 version received the governor’s support after lawmakers gave her the funds she said were necessary.

“This is exciting news for South Dakota,” Lesmeister, a Dupree Democrat, said after the Friday announcement. “This is what I have been waiting and battling for, is to see producers and processors of industrial hemp in South Dakota.” 

The state Department of Agriculture and Department of Public Safety will now put emergency rules into effect, according to spokeswoman JaCee Aaseth. That will open the way for people and businesses to begin applying for licenses. “We anticipate serving notice of the rules that align with state law and the newly approved plan early next week,” she said.

Lesmeister was pleased.

“Finally getting closer to the finish line, the ride has been long, but very rewarding. I have met people and seen places that I would have never gone to if it wasn’t for hemp,” the rancher said. “I am so exited to attend my second hemp production and informational meeting in Chamberlain next weekend that all I can do is smile.”

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