Gov. Noem visits Rapid City, said hemp is "not a priority" in budget proposal

Published: Dec. 4, 2019 at 6:31 PM CST
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Noem predicts the economy and especially agricultural businesses will continue to struggle throughout the state next year.

Some farmers hoped the governor would move toward legalizing hemp in an effort to boost revenue.

Noem said today that she still has concerns about the crop and if legislators bring a hemp proposal forward a debate will be needed.

"In my budget to address hemp I would've had to add dollars to set up a state program. I did not choose to do that at this time, I know there will be legislation that will be coming during session that legislators want to set up a statewide hemp growing program, and I'm sure they'll have that debate," said Noem.

Noem said during the last legislative session ... she didn't feel the timing was right for a state hemp program because law enforcement may not be able to tell the difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.

The governor also claimed it would cost $7 million dollars to set up a hemp program and that wasn't a priority in her budget .

"It's not a priority for me. So in my budget, I certainly wasn't going to put it in. If other people are going to make it a priority have a debate and put it in the legislative budget and not fund something else that might be something they do and have the prerogative to do," said Noem.

Noem said she knows some legislators are passionate about adding a hemp program in South Dakota, and the new USDA guidelines are helpful.

Two initiated measures already submitted for the 2020 state-wide ballot touch on legalizing marijuana. One would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana; and another would require the Legislature to pass laws regarding hemp and access to medical marijuana.