Industrial Hemp Bill Passes In South Dakota

Industrial Hemp - South Dakota
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Legal commercial cultivation and processing of industrial hemp moved a step closer in South Dakota last week.

House Bill 1054 (HB1054) was passed by the  South Dakota House, 57 votes in favor to 11 opposed. The bill will now move to the state Senate for debate and voting.

HB1054 states:

“Industrial hemp (cannabis sativa l.), having no more than three-tenths of one percent tetrahydrocannabinol, is hereby designated an oilseed. Upon meeting the requirements of sections 2 to 6, inclusive, of this Act, any person in this state may plant, grow, harvest, possess, process, sell, and buy industrial hemp (cannabis sativa l.) having no more than three-tenths of one percent tetrahydrocannabinol.”

The bill would operate independently of federal government oversight; which lumps industrial hemp in with marijuana and only allows it to be cultivated and processed under the very restrictive Farm Bill 2014.

“A license required by this Act is not conditioned on or subject to review or approval by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency,” states the bill.

Oglala Sioux Nation will no doubt be happy about the progress – some of its tribal members have been wanting to grow hemp on their lands to support economic development on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for quite some time.

It was way back in 1998 the Oglala Sioux Tribe passed an ordinance to enable Lakota farmers to grow hemp under tribal supervision. Just a year later, DEA agents raided and destroyed the crops. However, the former crop is still currently growing wild in the area and is known as “ditch weed“.

HB1054’s champion, Mike Verchio (R-Hill City), says industrial hemp could “transform the rural economics” of South Dakota and also wants the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to help finance hemp processing facilities.

The state’s governor, Dennis Daugaard, is opposed to the legalizing of industrial hemp for commercial applications, stating he doubts it would “amount to much economic activity”. Governor Daugaard may be well-advised to spend a little time on Google.

In 2013, approximately 67,785 of hemp was produced globally. Current industry estimates report annual sales of hemp products (PDF) at more than $580 million annually in the USA alone – and that figure comes from the USA’s Congressional Research Service.