Industrial hemp was one of the big issues before the 2020 Legislature.

In 2019 the Legislature passed a bill allowing industrial hemp to be grown in South Dakota but Gov. Noem vetoed the bill and, on veto day, the Legislature was unable to override that veto. As a result, the issue of industrial hemp was before the Legislature throughout this session.

HB 1008, which would allow hemp cultivation for certain licensed businesses, was introduced on Jan. 14 and was finally passed on March 12 and signed by the governor on March 27, 2020.

The Legislature was concerned about the amount of money that the governor wanted to regulate and enforce the rules dealing with growing and transporting the hemp. Although the Legislature felt that the amount of money requested was more than was necessary, we finally went along with the governor’s request rather than risk another veto.

The hemp bill contained an emergency clause which meant that it had to pass by two-thirds majorities in both houses, but as a result, it went into effect immediately rather than waiting until July 1 when most new laws go into effect. As a result of the emergency clause, producers could potentially raise an industrial hemp crop in 2020 which would not have been possible if they had to wait until after July 1 to plant.  

Part of HB 1008 also allows the sale of CBD products in South Dakota’s as long as they contain less than .3% THC (tetrahydrocannibinol) which is the active or psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. The CBD products that can be sold in South Dakota must be for topical use only — not for consumption or ingestion. The CBD products are also forbidden from making any health claims. There are also federal laws in place which make it illegal to sell CBD products as food or beverages for either animal or human consumption.

The new law allows licensed processors to make “industrial hemp products” which are defined as “a finished manufactured product, or consumer product containing cannabidiol that is packaged for individual sale, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than three-tenths of one percent, derived from or made by processing industrial hemp.” The law specifically prohibits the sale of hemp for smoking or inhaling. It remains to be seen just how active the growing and producing of hemp product will be in South Dakota.

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Several people have contacted me asking about the home delivery of alcoholic beverages. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some grocery stores and restaurants are providing home delivery of groceries and meals. The question is whether they can also deliver alcoholic beverages.  

Although no one had any idea of the changes that the pandemic would bring, in 2017 the Legislature passed SB143 which authorized the home delivery of alcoholic beverages. Businesses that have an off-sale liquor license may also obtain an “off-sale delivery license” but there are many limitations. The alcohol can only be delivered within the boundaries of the municipality that issued the license, the delivery must be made during the legal hours of operation and the person making the delivery must be over 21 years of age. However, the purchase of alcohol must be greater than $150 so it appears that home deliveries will only take place to purchase alcoholic beverages for a party or wedding reception — no one is going to be able to order their supper delivered from a restaurant and have a six-pack or bottle of wine delivered with it.

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I am the Senate representative on the South Dakota Corrections Commission which was created by law to assist the Department of Corrections in resolving problems in corrections and the criminal justice system.

There has been publicity recently about the young woman from South Dakota who died of COVID-19 at a federal prison in Texas shortly after giving birth to a baby. She was a federal prisoner, not a state prisoner, so the South Dakota Department of Corrections had no authority or responsibility for her care. Although she died at a federal prison, she had recently been held in a South Dakota county jail in Winner. It is not unusual for federal prisoners to be held in South Dakota county jails as holding federal prisoners can be very profitable for county jails.

As of two weeks ago, the South Dakota Department of Corrections has tested 70 inmates and 30 staff, all of whom tested negative for COVID 19. Two inmates, one at Jameson Prison Annex and one at the Women’s Prison in Pierre, tested positive but both have now recovered. Two staff members, both at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls, have tested positive and are presently in quarantine.

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