South Dakota governor legalizes hemp but says coronavirus could affect program budget

Hemp production is legal in South Dakota after a year-long battle between Gov. Kristin Noem and lawmakers.

Noem signed the industrial hemp production bill Friday, which takes effect immediately and includes $3.5 million to set up South Dakota’s state production program. South Dakota farmers will have to wait to produce hemp until the state receives U.S. Department of Agriculture approval for its hemp production plan, which could be as late as June, according to state lawmakers.

But the Republican governor said the budget allocation for hemp production – along with 15 other programs for which she signed bills – is subject to change, depending on how much money the state receives from the federal stimulus package that was signed into law Friday by President Trump, according to the Rapid City Journal.

“I’m signing these 15 bills with one 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,” Noem said in a statement.

Noem called for a special legislative session in June to look at the budget and see how the coronavirus has affected the state, according to the Argus Leader.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the state’s economic outlook, Noem said. State lawmakers planned to meet Monday to consider action on vetoed programs and emergency bills to address the coronavirus crisis.