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Despite some of the harshest state policies on CBD, many South Dakota tribes are aiming to begin growing hemp.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem remains firmly against legalizing hemp in the state. However, the 2018 Farm Bill permits tribes to create their own hemp programs separate from the state.

The Oglala Sioux tribes are among dozens in South Dakota to unite in forming a hemp coalition. They’re working together to create ordinances and submit hemp program proposals to the USDA to begin growing next year. Ironically, these tribes believe the current roadblocks to hemp legalization work in their favor. Having the first hemp programs in South Dakota will make partnering with state farmers easier once it’s legal.

“That gives us a leg up on the hemp economy within South Dakota. I think that’s where we want to be,” says Buster Issenock, Marketing Director at Rosebud Economic Development Corporation, to The Argus Leader. “Hemp is not a bad plant. We want to use this plant to further our goals of economic sustainability, putting our land to good use.”

The rural community of Rosebud has 100,000 acres that are suitable for growing hemp. This could potentially yield $25 million in profit for the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Their long-term plans include building a processing facility to turn hemp into textiles.

Heather Dawn Thompson, the attorney working with the coalition, notes that hemp grows well in the Northern Plains region. Many tribes also like the idea of growing hemp because it doesn’t require pesticides or extensive maintenance.

“It’s a healthy crop,” she says. “It’s a nice cultural match for a lot of tribal nations.”

Governor Noem On Hemp

Noem already vetoed a bill passed earlier this year to legalize hemp in South Dakota. She also says in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that she will veto a hemp legalization bill set for 2020.

“Normalizing hemp… is part of a larger strategy to undermine enforcement of the drug laws,” she writes. Noem also states that legalizing hemp effectively legalizes all forms of cannabis. However, the 2018 Farm Bill directly contradicts this statement. The bill makes it clear that hemp-derived CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

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