Senate Report: Hemp Agriculture

By Senator Kent Williams
During this session, the General Assembly passed the South Carolina Hemp Farming Act. This Act promotes the cultivation and processing of hemp, expands the state’s hemp industry, opens new commercial markets for farmers and businesses through the sale of hemp products, and encourages research into hemp growth and hemp products at state institutions of higher education and in the private sector.
The Hemp Farming Act addresses the use of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, with federally defined THC level for hemp, for such uses as cloth, cordage, fiber, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard, plastics, cosmetics, personal care products, food, and any product containing one or more hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol. Due to the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, which classifies hemp as an agricultural commodity, this Act replaces the state’s provisions for cultivating industrial hemp that were previously enacted and provides for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture to submit a state plan to the USDA for approval.
Also, this Act eliminates the limitations on the number of permits issued and the maximum acreage that could be cultivated. While these maximum limits are no longer imposed, you can only cultivate, handle, or process hemp by obtaining a license issued by the Department of Agriculture. To Obtain a license you must provide a legal description and location of fields or greenhouses; provide written consent allowing representatives of the Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and local law enforcement, to enter onto all premises where hemp is cultivated, processed, or stored for the purposes of conducting physical inspections, obtaining samples of hemp or hemp products, or otherwise ensuring compliance with the requirements of applicable laws and regulations; and submit to a criminal records check.
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is authorized to issue licenses to all those who applied in 2019 and met the licensing criteria but were denied solely because the department had already issued the legally permitted number of licenses for the year. However, anyone that has been convicted of a felony, a drug-related misdemeanor, or drug related violation ten years prior to the submission of an application is not eligible to obtain a license.
As with all matters concerning state government, I want to hear your opinions and suggestions concerning these issues. Please contact me in my Columbia office located at 608 Gressette Office Building. You can reach me, or a member of my staff in Columbia at (803) 212-6000 or by fax at (803) 212-6011. My district office is located at 2523 East Highway 76, Marion, SC 29571, the phone number is (843) 423-8237 and the fax number is (843) 431-6049. You may also email me at [email protected] My business phone is (843) 423-3904.
Please use this information to write, call or email me with your suggestions and concerns regarding issues before the Senate and in our community.