One of the USA’s few remaining hemp holdout states is now very cautiously joining the country’s cannabis revolution.
On Friday, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem signed HB 1008 into law, which is an Act to legalize the growth, production, and transportation of industrial hemp in the state; to make appropriations for funding and to declare an emergency.
The term “declare an emergency” isn’t as ominous as it sounds. It simply means the Act comes into effect immediately.
That South Dakota would join other hemp states under Governor Noem’s watch wasn’t a slam-dunk. As we recently mentioned, just over a year ago another bill that would have allowed hemp cultivated and processed in the state, House Bill 1191, was vetoed by the governor.
Governor Noem said at the time she didn’t believe South Dakota was ready for the crop and dug her heels in while under heavy fire.
So, what’s changed since? In order for any hemp bill to get over the line, it was required to address her many concerns and satisfy her “four guardrails“, which were:
- reliable enforcement standards
- responsible regulations regarding licensing, reporting, and inspections
- an appropriate plan for safe transportation
- an adequate funding plan
… and HB 1008 obviously passed muster.
Governor Noem hasn’t commented specifically on her signing of the bill as yet, which is understandable given the situation with COVID-19. At the time of writing, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture was yet to provide an update on the road from here.
While nearly $3.5 million has been earmarked for setting up the hemp program, Governor Noem has warned the signing of this and other bills on Friday had a caveat – “we may need to come back in June and make drastic changes to both the current budget and next year’s fiscal year budget.”
South Dakota will also be required to lodge and have approved a state plan for hemp with the USDA, unless it chooses to operate under provisions under the 2014 Farm Bill – permissible for this year only. But the chances of farmers being able to get a crop into the ground this season would appear to be slim at best.