Funding "guardrail" a sticking point for industrial hemp bill

 Alex White Plume surveys his hemp crop in his field outside Manderson, S.D. (KOTA TV)
Alex White Plume surveys his hemp crop in his field outside Manderson, S.D. (KOTA TV) (KOTA)
Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 6:49 PM CST
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Proponent say industrial hemp is a money maker for the state, but opponents say there's still a public safety risk.

House Bill 1008 would allow for the growth and production of industrial hemp in South Dakota.

Last year, a similar bill was introduced, but vetoed by Governor Kristi Noem.

"I know from last year there was a fair amount of support and the governor vetoed, but there wasn't quite enough to override her veto," said Senator Helene Duhamel, District 32. "I don't know if that stands. In talking, there are several senators that really think it's a step in legalized marijuana and they're opposed to it. So, I'm not sure exactly what the vote would be OR they would get the 2/3 necessary to have an emergency clause so it could be available for this planting season."

This year, Noem release four guardrails for industrial hemp, which are reliable enforcement standards, responsible regulations regarding licensing, reporting, and inspections, an appropriate plan for safe transportation, and an adequate funding plan

Noem thinks the funding for the enforcement of the first three guardrails would cost about $3.5 million and Duhamel says this guardrail is the sticking point.

"There's some varying opinions on that dollar figure," said Duhamel. "I tend to want to go with that higher dollar figure with public safety in mind. The idea here is that law enforcement will have the tools necessary to properly regulate and really get this program off the ground in a safe way."

Duhamel does not want to spend more than that $3.5 million figure and thinks testing is a key to public safety.

"I think, some of the money that would go to this would be to hiring additional folks, hiring drug dogs, getting facility and the testing and the things we need to do to make sure it's hemp and it's not marijuana," said Duhamel. "The testing will be important-- they look the same, they apparently smell the same to the drug dogs, and so the key is to find out, you know, for sure how much THC is in it and is it industrial hemp."

Duhamel is unsure how she will vote and wants to hear more opinions.

House Bill 1008 passed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and is schedule to be heard in the Senate on Monday, March 9.