CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (KELO) — About a dozen people turned out Saturday for a meeting on industrial hemp in South Dakota. 

The event was organized by producers and business people from Nebraska, where some farmers have been producing low-THC hemp. 

South Dakota is getting ready to dip its toe into the hemp field. State legislators passed a law this year legalizing hemp with no more than 0.3% THC. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved South Dakota’s plan October 15. A state rules hearing is set for November 13. 

South Dakota Senate Democratic leader Troy Heinert of Mission started working on industrial hemp years ago. He sponsored a bill in 2016 that the House of Representatives passed but died after a Senate committee hearing. 

South Dakota lawmakers passed a bill last year but Governor Kristi Noem vetoed it. This year she agreed to sign it. 

“I’m sorry we are not as far along as we should be, because we’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Heinert said. 

What made the difference, he said, was that several tribal governments in South Dakota received USDA approval for their plans. They needed to be able to transport hemp outside their reservations. 

“Tribes were now allowed to grow hemp,” said Heinert, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. “That changed things.”  

He noted that South Dakota is the only state in the nation where ingestion and possession of marijuana are felony crimes. 

Another speaker Saturday was Katie Sieverding. She is executive director for the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association. Sieverding said the federal government wants modifications to South Dakota’s new law. She said the Noem administration is expected to bring a lengthy bill for the 2021 legislative session. 

Ken Meyer, from Winfred-based A.H. Meyer and Sons, said the company plans to use CO2 to produce CBD oil after it receives a South Dakota hemp-processor license. The company currently specializes in rendering and selling beeswax to honey producers.

Adam Brewer founded CBD Remedies in Lincoln, Nebraska. The company focuses on retail sales and also manufactures products. Brewer said packaging that includes THC data is important for consumer confidence. 

Derek Kats, who started Hemp Consultants in Lincoln, Nebraska, three years ago, said Nebraska is “very behind” in its processing for industrial hemp. “The cultivation side is key, but unless all these other pieces are put in place, the cultivation bottle-necks,” Kats said.