Hemp Legalization Deal Reached in South Dakota

Lawmakers in South Dakota have reached a hemp legalization deal with Gov. Kristi Noem, who had promised to veto hemp reforms without having funds set aside for costs associated with the plan.

Full story after the jump.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) and lawmakers have reached a deal to legalize hemp in the state, with the governor saying yesterday that $3.5 million has been secured in the budget for the state to “responsibly” start an industrial hemp program, the Associated Press reports.

The House passed industrial hemp legalization legislation last week; however, Noem had promised to veto any hemp reforms without the funds for “one-time and ongoing” costs associated with hemp legalization.

Noem vetoed a hemp legalization bill last year but indicated in January that she would sign a hemp bill so long as it included “guardrails” – including the $3.5 million, broad consent by growers for law enforcement inspections and a requirement they pay any costs associated with eradication of plants that test over the legal THC limits, and the banning of smokeable hemp products.

Rep. Lee Qualm (R), the bill sponsor, told the Argus Leader that the measure  approved by the House satisfies the governor’s ‘guardrails.’

Noem said that some of the funds for the hemp program – along with a pay raise for teachers and state employees – would come from underutilized Department of Health and Human Services program funds, according to the AP.

Noem had previously opposed hemp legalization, saying in an op-ed last year that it would legalize THC-rich cannabis “by default.” In her January op-ed, Noem Noem said that with U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, a South Dakota tribe getting the go-ahead from the federal government, and bordering states having legalized the crop, the state should move forward with the reforms.

South Dakota‘s legislative session ends this week. The hemp bill is considered ’emergency legislation’ and requires a two-thirds majority to pass. If approved and signed by the governor, it would take effect immediately.

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