House overwhelmingly passes industrial hemp bill

PIERRE, S.D. (AP/SOUTH DAKOTA BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION) - State representatives have overwhelmingly advanced legislation to legalize industrial hemp in South Dakota days after Gov. Kristi Noem asked lawmakers to shelve the efforts this session.

The House voted 65-2 Monday to send the bill to the Senate. House Majority Leader Lee Qualm says it's time to move forward with hemp.

The vote comes after Noem said Friday that South Dakota isn't ready for the production of industrial hemp. She says questions remain about enforcement, taxpayer costs and effects on public safety.

The 2018 Farm Bill, which Noem voted for as a Congresswoman, contains provisions for growing industrial hemp as a commodity crop, but with numerous restrictions.

Industrial hemp differs from non-hemp cannabis, or marijuana, only by how much THC is contained within the plant. Less than 0.3 percent is considered hemp while more than 0.3 or above is considered marijuana.

Jarrod Otta, plant manager for Glanbia Nutritionals in Sioux Falls, recently told lawmakers that the company has been contacted by two "very large customers" to process hemp protein. He asked lawmakers to legalize hemp so the company can expand in South Dakota.