South Dakotan Legislators are ready to legalize industrial hemp during the 2020 legislative session. On Monday, the six-page draft legislation, which is to be introduced in the House in January, was approved by the legislative Industrial Hemp Study Committee in a vote of 10-1. The bill’s primary sponsors are expected to be House Majority Leader Lee Qualm (R-Platte) and Senator Josh Klumb (R-Mount Vernon).
Industrial hemp is a “buyer beware” industry, said Senator Rocky Blare (R-Ideal). Blare also noted that residents of South Dakota should be educated on hemp. He further said that the state could permit farmers to grow and transparently process hemp while adhering to the hemp laws written by the lawmakers.
Three states in the U.S. have not legalized Industrial hemp, and they include South Dakota, Idaho, and Mississippi.
In September, Governor Kristi Noem said that she rejected the legislation seeking to legalize industrial hemp during the 2019 legislative sessions, and she will still veto the bill during the 2020 sessions, on the grounds that that legalizing hemp will lead to the legalization of marijuana.
During the Hemp Committee meeting held on Monday, Watertown Republican Rep. Nancy York conceded with Noem’s concerns of hemp being a gateway to marijuana legalization. She also said that she is opposed to the production of industrial hemp for CBD oil. York further noted that she is afraid that the taxpayer’s funds will be used to fund the hemp program if it is not self-sustaining. York added that farmers in her district have said that they will now grow the crop as it is viewed as a boutique crop.
The House Majority Leader, Qualm, said that the lawmakers on the Hemp Committee are not pushing for marijuana legalization.
Qualm also said that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) could regulate CBD oil as it is not going anywhere. He also noted that the hemp program in South Dakota is not a pilot program since other states started with pilot programs that were not self-sustaining.
Qualm further said that the Department of Agriculture legalized hemp in the U.S. under the 2018 Farm Bill and that the legislators should allow growers and processors to participate in the industry by enabling them to fix the market for themselves.
The draft bill encompasses an emergency clause that would legalize hemp immediately if it is passed. For the legislation to be approved, a two-thirds majority of the House must vote for it during the 2020 session.
The draft bill approved on Monday stipulates that growers and processors must have a license to operate in South Dakota. Before the permits are issued, applicants would have to undergo a background check as well as to submit the locations of the farms where hemp will be cultivated. The licenses would last for a period of one year, and hemp possession without a permit will be classified as a Class 4 felony.
“Should the legislature refer the legalization of industrial hemp to the 2020 ballot for the voters to decide?” Rep. Tim Goodwin (R-Rapid City) asked. However, Qualm noted that legalizing hemp through the 2020 poll would push the start of hemp farming to the 2021 planting season, while if it is approved by the legislature, through an emergency session, farmers would be able to cultivate hemp during the 2020 planting season.
Analysts believe that hemp industry actors like The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) and LiveWire Ergogenics Inc. (OTC: LVVV) will be waiting with bated breath to see how advocates navigate the opposition to the legalization of hemp in South Dakota.
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