CONWAY, SC (WBTW)- Governor Henry McMaster recently signed The Hemp Farming Act which opens up the hemp pilot program in the state. The new law gives more farmers the ability to grown hemp and makes it the next cash crop.
The law removes stipulations for hemp pilot or research programs which limited the number of people who could grow and the number of acres they could grow on, but it doesn’t mean anyone can just start growing hemp.
Now, the 162 people who applied for the state’s hemp program last year can start to grow. That’s only if they pass a background check and have not been convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance in the past 10 years.
To be able to grow hemp in South Carolina, you must apply for a permit through the state’s Department of Agriculture and give them your GPS coordinates of where the crop is being grown.
The law takes off restrictions from the previous program like having to partner with a university.
Industrial hemp is used in food, clothing, and even door panels on BMW’s made here in South Carolina.
State officials want the agricultural industry to have a 50 billion dollar impact on our economy, and Janel Ralph, one of the first hemp farmers in the state thinks this crop will do just that.
“Right now, most of the states are registering it as the next big tobacco in a way. Tobacco prices have gone down and hemp is a lot healthier for you,” said Ralph.
While some restrictions are taken away, the law also makes clear regulations on what “hemp products” someone can sell.
The law says things like cosmetics, food, and fibers containing hemp can be sold, but not unprocessed raw plant material or hemp seeds. Something Ralph has seen being sold in our area.
Ralph, the owner of Palmetto Harmony said previously there was no real definition on if you can sell a hemp bud. She said since the law is so new she wants to make sure other business owners are aware.
“You need to get it off of your shelves because what will happen is eventually SLED is going to come in and start shutting operations down and you’re risking your whole livelihood, storefront, and even jail time,” said Ralph.
To read the law click here.