Hemp legislation takes step forward

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Noem and legislators have reached an agreement on a proposal to grow industrial hemp having a THC level no higher 0.3 of 1% in South Dakota.

Thursday morning, a House committee voted 11-0 to endorse a new version of HB 1008 that the governor’s office wrote.

A panel of state lawmakers will publicly discuss for the first time Thursday morning the criminal penalties and regulatory elements that Governor Kristi Noem has insisted are necessary for low-THC hemp to become legal in South Dakota.

The full text of her complete rewrite appears on the Legislature’s website. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to reopen the hearing on HB 1008 when the panel of lawmakers meets today at 7:45 a.m. CT.

The governor would set an annual license fee up to $500 for a grower and $2,000 for a processor. The original legislation proposed a license fee up to $350. Noem wants the program to be self-supporting.

Last year Noem vetoed legislation that would have legalized industrial hemp if its THC content wasn’t above three-tenths of one percent. She argued it would open the door to legalization of marijuana in South Dakota.

Two marijuana measures have since qualified for the November 2020 election ballot.

After her veto, the Legislature assigned a special committee that held four public meetings and drafted the legislation that was submitted for the 2020 session.

Noem initially resisted, challenging the study group last summer with more than 300 questions at one point. Then she somewhat relented, issuing her ‘Four Guardrails’ statement in January about what she needed if industrial hemp was to become legal.

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