South Dakota Governor Signals Potential Hemp Support, But..

Kristi Noem - Hemp
Image: Governor Kristi Noem via Facebook

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been a holdout in the USA’s hemp revolution. Her stance appears to be softening.

Last year Governor Noem  vetoed House Bill 1191, which would have allowed industrial hemp to be grown and processed in the state. Then in August, she submitted hundreds of questions concerning hemp to the state’s House and Senate leadership. In September, she was accused by the South Dakota Democratic Party (SDDP) of “spreading lies” about the crop.

With the release of the USDA’s interim final rule on hemp, the Governor now seems ready to move forward – slowly and cautiously.

Faced with another attempt this year to allow the crop be grown in the state, late last week the governor outlined to legislature a path forward – what she termed “four guardrails” for hemp. If those are met, she will consider signing a related bill.

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“These include: 1) reliable enforcement standards; 2) responsible regulations regarding licensing, reporting, and inspections; 3) an appropriate plan for safe transportation; and 4) an adequate funding plan,” said Governor Noem.

The document describing the “guardrails” can be downloaded here. If you were expecting a huge document, you’ll be surprised – it’s just a single page and on the face of it, much of it appears quite reasonable:

Among the points:

  • Growth or possession of hemp is a consent to an inspection and a search.
  • Reasonable regulations regarding licensing, reporting, and inspections that are at least compliant with USDA standards
  • Minimum land area size: contiguous outdoor 5 acres.

There is also mention of the need for a permit for all transportation of hemp; which may cause some headaches for freight through the state from other states. For those growing what is deemed to be “unlawful” hemp, they’ll be forced to cough up the costs of disposal.

Another interesting point is the governor has called it a “path forward for decriminalizing hemp”, not legalising it – and hemp is a legal crop at a Federal level; not “decriminalized”. While it may be just a word, it’s one that has a great deal of stigma attached.