South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, is considering giving the go-ahead to the development of a hemp industry law as long as it meets her requirements. On Thursday, Noem announced that although she is not in favor of hemp, she would not oppose the bill if the legislature approves it and it meets her requirements. Speaking with KELO, Noem detailed her requirements of which she said that the crop must have stringent regulations and that the lawmakers should devise a way to pay for the hemp program.
The lawmakers have a draft bill ready and are planning to introduce it this week when the legislative sessions begin, said Lee Qualm, the House Majority Leader. He also added that the bill meets most of the requirements stated by Noem.
Some of the provisions in the draft bill that meet Noem’s requirements include the cultivation of hemp by farmers as long as they have a minimum of five acres, THC levels to be kept below 0.3%, and that the producers should have a license obtained from the state, as well as a hemp transportation permit.
Qualm further said that the current legislation has emergency clauses such that if it is approved, it would be effective immediately, allowing growers to participate in the spring’s planting season. However, he is not sure if the provision will be okayed. The federal department of agriculture would still need to approve the hemp plan, and this would leave the farmers with less than enough time to participate in the 2020 planting season.
The total cost of starting the hemp program would be $1.9 million, and an additional cost of maintaining the hemp program of $1.6 million, Noem’s office estimated. Noem also wants the fields and hemp facilities to be searched and inspected by law enforcement.
Last year, the governor took advantage of her power and vetoed the bill, and she planned on doing the same this year. Noem argued that legalizing hemp would be a gateway to marijuana legalization.
However, on Thursday, the governor announced a change of heart.
Although the Department of Agriculture in South Dakota had released guidelines for industrial hemp, South Dakota was one of the three states that did not approve hemp production because of the governor’s opposition. Some of the Indian tribes’ hemp plans are pending approval by the USDA, and the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe has already been authorized to grow hemp by the USDA. Meanwhile, South Dakota has had to permit interstate transportation of hemp in order to comply with federal law.
Experts think that the entire hemp industry, including sector players like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) and SinglePoint Inc. (OTCQB: SING), will be hoping that the state finally joins the rest of the country in enjoying the benefits that accrue from a legal hemp industry.
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