What a difference a year makes. In 2019, South Dakota lawmakers passed a bill to legalize industrial hemp, only to see the measure vetoed by the state’s Republican governor. Now, with the governor reversing course, a new hemp bill looks poised to become law.
On Tuesday, members of the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a proposal to legalize and regulate the growth, processing, and transportation of hemp. The bipartisan bill passed with overwhelming support, advancing on a 54-12 vote. It now moves to the state Senate, where it is also expected to pass, ultimately arriving at the desk of Gov. Kristi Noem, who is expected to complete her turnabout on the issue by signing the bill.
Governor Noem’s Anti-Hemp Stance
In last year’s session, Noem, who was elected governor in 2018, vetoed a bill to industrialize hemp, arguing that it would be a gateway to legal marijuana. She reiterated her opposition last summer, writing in the Wall Street Journal that she would veto any future hemp measures that arrive on her desk.
“When I was sworn in as South Dakota’s governor in January, opposing industrial hemp and marijuana legalization weren’t on my list of key issues,” she wrote. “But