S.D. senators back low-THC hemp changes

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — For the third year in a row, South Dakota lawmakers have decided to go farther on industrial hemp than the governor wants.

State senators voted 27-6 Thursday to change state laws on growing and processing the low-THC plants. Governor Kristi Noem had people from her administration testify against HB 1228 at a Senate hearing.

The legislation now returns to the House for a decision whether to agree with minor changes made by the Senate committee. The House had approved its version 58-11.

Overriding a governor’s veto requires 2/3 majorities of 47 in the House and 24 in the Senate.

Caleb Finck wants to allow outdoor plots as small as a half-acre. The law currently sets the minimum at 5 acres. He also wants to allow greenhouses that are at least 2,880 square feet. Indoor growing isn’t allowed now.

Some licensing requirements also would change. And the measure makes adjustments the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested during its review and approval of South Dakota’s state plan.

Decades have passed since industrial hemp was last grown legally in South Dakota.

“There will be a growing season for hemp in 2021,” Brock Greenfield said Thursday. “Not passing this bill hinders our farmers, processors and seed salesmen.”

Helene Duhamel opposed the bill. One reason was that marijuana could be hidden when hemp is transported. “Enforcement of hemp is critical to its success in South Dakota,” she said.

Casey Crabtree said a yes vote was “a vote for economic development” in South Dakota.

Greenfield said senators shouldn’t buy into the argument that was made against it. “I just ask us to keep our eye on the ball,” he said. “It didn’t come from the bureaucracy. It’s coming from the legislators.”

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