The South Dakota Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has approved a measure that would legalize full-scale hemp production in the state, designating hemp as an oilseed, according to a South Dakota Public Radio report. The committee passed the bill 9-2.
Proponents pointed to the success of North Dakota’s pilot hemp program, but opponents were concerned that the federal government could crack down on hemp farmers.
“We have an opportunity to maybe start something a little new, it’ll take years to get to a point where it’ll make an impact on our state ag economy but it has to start somewhere, you know, years ago soybeans were in the same spot, people didn’t raise a lot of soybeans and the ethanol industry, like you said was probably started in somebody’s garage in a very small way, so not trying and not even wanting to try is kind of the biggest shame, I think,” Committee Chairman Rep. Herman Otten said in the report.
Jenna Howell, director of the state Department of Safety’s Legal and Regulatory Services, said the state’s law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to test crops to ensure they contain less than the .3 percent of THC allowable to be considered hemp under the 2014 federal Farm Bill.
“Having those things legally grow in our state, we are concerned send mixed messages to our youth who we are trying to warn about the dangers of illegal drugs, and we would ask we not further confuse that issue,” she said.
The proposal includes testing requirements, permitting for the destruction of crops that contain more than the allowable THC content. The measure will head to the House for a full vote.