South Dakota’s Industrial Hemp Hopes Dashed – For Now

Hemp bill South Dakota
Image: Shane Rounce

On Tuesday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem vetoed House Bill 1191 that would have allowed industrial hemp to be grown and processed in the state.

The bill went to the Governor after passing muster in the Senate last week after some confusion, and it then went back to the House where it was also passed.

Governor Noem has repeatedly said the state is not yet ready for industrial hemp. Among her stated concerns is that it will create headaches for law enforcement and be the thin edge of the wedge for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use.

The Governor also expressed concern HB 1191 was focused on the extraction of cannabidiol (CBD) rather than on farmers.

“It would instead allow the immediate, widespread production and use of CBD, as well as other hemp derivatives, even though the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has yet to approve them as safe for therapeutic use or for interstate commerce,” said Governor Noem.

Plenty of states are already allowing the use of CBD and that aside, the cannabidiol issue is a bit of an odd concern given that South Dakota farmers would be growing the hemp that the CBD would be extracted from.

Even with the Governor’s veto, there was one final hope of the bill passing in this session. Under such circumstances, a veto can be overridden by the legislature but requires two-thirds or more of the vote. 

However, that wasn’t to be. Various outlets report while it was easily overridden by a vote in the House, a 20-13 Senate vote on Tuesday fell short of the two-thirds majority needed.

The Governor is certainly in no rush to see hemp once again growing in South Dakota’s fields.

“There is no urgent problem requiring an immediate solution this session,” said the Governor. “Until the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) issues its own rules, the regular growth and interstate transport of hemp cannot begin.”

But it will mean further delays for the state when the USDA does get around to that.

Champion of HB 1191 Bunky Loucks said earlier this week that vetoing his bill would just give neighbouring Wyoming an edge over South Dakota. Last week, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed off on an industrial hemp bill.