South Dakota lawmakers scrambling to settle hemp compromise

After a year-long dispute over legalizing industrial hemp in South Dakota, state lawmakers are jostling to finish work on a hemp bill that won’t provoke another veto from Gov. Kristi Noem.

The latest move came this week when the state Senate passed a “placeholder” hemp bill on a 25-9 vote without debate, according to the Argus Leader. The bill would allow hemp production but leaves the details to be worked out later.

South Dakota has just a few days left in the lawmaking term to try to overcome last year’s failed attempt to legalize hemp agriculture. Noem vetoed that measure, calling it  a strategy to “make legalized marijuana inevitable.”

This year, Noem says she’ll approve hemp but that lawmakers need to allocate $3.5 million for a hemp program. Noem says the money is needed because a hemp program would change the way the state enforces marijuana laws and require testing equipment, drug storage and beefed-up law enforcement.

Lawmakers say the governor’s estimates are excessive and have put forward an estimate of around $1 million.

South Dakota, Mississippi and Idaho are the only states that don’t allow hemp cultivation.

However, an American Indian tribe in South Dakota, the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, has received federal permission to grow hemp in 2020 on tribal land.

– Associated Press and Hemp Industry Daily