Noem releases potential path toward legalizing hemp

Published: Jan. 9, 2020 at 10:00 AM CST
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Gov. Kristi Noem has released a potential path for South Dakota to legalize industrial hemp, a move she has long opposed.

The governor released a statement Thursday morning, which offered insight as to why Noem is considering softening her stance. She noted federal guidelines on hemp are now in place, and many other states, as well as one South Dakota tribe, have legalized industrial hemp.

Noem's plan consisted of four guidelines, which she called "guardrails," that would need to be in place prior to legalizing the product. Those include: reliable enforcement standards; responsible regulations regarding licensing, reporting, and inspections; an appropriate plan for safe transportation; and an adequate funding plan.

The 2018 farm bill legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity while removing it from the list of controlled substances. Since then, 46 states have legalized hemp production.

The following is Noem's statement in full:

“Over the last year, we’ve had a long conversation about legalizing hemp, and everyone knows that I don’t think it’s a good idea. Last year, I vetoed a 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. Now since that time, things have changed. Federal guidelines have been put in place, a South Dakota tribe has been given the green light on production, and other states’ actions mean we need to address hemp transportation through our state. The legislative summer study also did great work, and they included some good ideas. Today, I am outlining for the legislature a path forward – four guardrails, if you will – on hemp. 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. Given all that we need to accomplish this session, if we can get this done in the coming weeks, it would be a good way to kick off this year’s legislative session.”