Summer Study Passes Hemp Draft Legislation

Dec 2, 2019

Credit Jamie Edwards / North Dakota Hemp Farmer

A legislative summer study is passing along a bill that establishes a framework for farmers to grow hemp in South Dakota.

It’s the group’s first meeting since the USDA issued its guidelines for industrial hemp programs.

Despite that, some remain opposed to the idea.

The six page draft legislation still has a tall hill to climb, but state lawmakers are confident in the bill.

It establishes an application process and criminal history check before getting a permit to grow the crop. It also creates a licensure program fund that lawmakers expect to cover the cost of the program. A license to grow hemp will last 15 months.

The bill also places groundwork for law enforcement stops and testing. Violation for growing hemp without a permit is a class four felony.

Republican State Representative Lee Qualm is chair of the study. He says the bill often refers to the federal rules issued by the USDA in October. Now, Qualm says they’re urging the department to come up with paperwork that standardizes hemp transportation throughout the United States.

“We are going to put that letter forward to USDA,” Qualm says. “We have until the end of December to make that—send that to them. We’re going to send that out. We’re certainly hopeful they’ll make that change. I think it would make it easy for law enforcement in every state to deal with that issue.”

Other lawmakers remain opposed to the idea of industrial hemp in South Dakota. Hemp is a cousin to the marijuana plant. Representative Nancy York was the lone ‘no’ vote against the bill. She says she’s still concerned about CBD oil production.

“The bill that Representative Qualm put together is well written, it looks like it has a lot of safe guards in it, that inspections will take place on a regular basis,” York says. “I think that’s all well and good. I think we just might be a year or two ahead of where we want to be in the education process for our farmers.”

Governor Kristi Noem was not available for comment on the story.