Governor Noem offers plans to “Decriminalize Hemp”

Published: Jan. 9, 2020 at 8:16 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Governor Kristi Noem has released a potential path that will allow the cultivation of industrial hemp to be legalized in the state of South Dakota. This is a move she's opposed over the last year but is now softening her stance with a few guidelines.

"Today I’m outlining the legislature a path forward. Four guardrails if you will on hemp," Governor Kristi Noem said.

Noem has been very upfront that she doesn't think legalizing hemp is a good idea. Just last year she vetoed a hemp bill that didn't address concerns surrounding public safety, law enforcement or funding.

"I asked the legislature to wait until we had direction from the federal government and a plan to address those concerns," Noem said.

The USDA has since released new guidelines for hemp production, but that still didn't soften her stance until now. She’s come up with new guidelines to work with lawmakers to pass a hemp bill.

"These include reliable enforcement standards, responsible regulations regarding licensing, reporting and inspections, an appropriate plan for safe transportation and number four an adequate funding plan," Noem said.

While waiting for federal guidelines a legislative summer study brainstormed ideas to get hemp legislation passed. Senator Reynold Nesiba was part of that group.

"I’m not sure that the summer study necessarily changed her mind but the folks around the table did hear from a variety of people from North Dakota and particularly Kentucky,” Senator Nesiba said. "I imagine this being two bills. One a policy bill that really lays out and defines what hemp is and what producers and processors and transporters need to do."

In Kentucky lawmakers learned more about being able to have GPS coordinates on a farm, being clear so law enforcement would know who is supposed to be a producer and learning that anybody transporting hemp needs to have a license.

"And if you're transporting hemp without a license you're going to get treated as though you were transporting marijuana," Nesiba said.

Nesiba said he believes there is enough support from the house and senate to pass this bill. 46 states have legalized hemp production since the 2018 farm bill removed hemp from a list of controlled substances.