Hemp legalization continues to move closer in South Dakota

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Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 7:47 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota has been slow when it comes to legalizing hemp growth and production compared to other states across the country.

After Governor Kristi Noem signed a bill into law in March legalizing it, many thought legalization was just around the corner.

Several months later, steps still remain on the path to hemp legalization.

The USDA recently approved the state’s legalization plan, which covers everything from inspections, licensure, and transportation.

“We drafted the plan over the late spring and summer we submitted it in August 2020, and the USDA was really good to work with.” said Taya Runyan, South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Legal Services Director.

That plan came back “approved” earlier in October.

Now, the state will hold a public hearing to go back over some of the finer details of the hemp plan.

“Some of the different agencies, including the department of agriculture, transportation, are going to make some other rules here at the state level for licensing, for the transportation of product through the state from farms and to different sites in the state.” said Katie Sieverding, South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association Executive Director.

While hemp was legalized in the 2018 federal farm bill, the idea of legalized hemp has faced its fair share of challenges in South Dakota over the past few years.

State Senator Troy Heinert (D-Mission) has been a staunch advocate of legalization for several years. He also represents tribal lands, where hemp is already legal.

He feels the legalization process has been slow.

“I think we are still going to have to be talking about it whether IM 26 passes or not, just because of the slow roll and there still isn’t a lot of guidance on how we do this. How do we go forward? There just has not been a plan yet, or not that I have seen anyway.” Senator Heinert said.

Despite all the bureaucratic challenges- state officials are optimistic that hemp will be fully legalized by the 2021 growing season.

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