South Carolina Becomes The Newest State In The Union To Legalize Industrial Hemp

By Frank G. Shineman

This year, Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina signed a bill into law, called House Bill 3559. In this signing, South Carolina became the 31st State of the Union to legalize the commercial production of Industrial Hemp. This historic and groundbreaking bill was passed by a unanimous vote of 105-0. This South Carolina bill will function under the auspices of the Federal 2014 Farm Bill.

Before we go into the specifics and expected results of House Bill 3559, it is important that we clarify once and for all the difference between Industrial Hemp and commercially grown marijuana for human consumption. We offer the following explanation:

What is Hemp?

Hemp is a durable, natural fiber that is grown as a renewable resource for raw materials that can be incorporated into thousands of products. It is one of the oldest agricultural products known to man. Hemp is used in nutritional products such as hemp seeds, hemp hearts, and hemp proteins for human consumption. It can also be used in building materials, paper, textiles, cordage, organic body care, and many other nutraceuticals. One of the agricultural benefits of growing hemp is that it only requires about half the water that alfalfa requires and it can be grown without the heavy use of pesticides. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products. The United States is the only developed nation that does not grow hemp on a large scale. With rapidly changing laws and more States gravitating toward Industrial Hemp that could soon significantly change. Currently, China and Canada are the world’s largest exporters of the Industrial Hemp crop. Lastly, we should also state that Industrial Hemp only contains .3% THC, the euphoric chemical as opposed to 40% THC in marijuana grown for human consumption.

Specifics and Expected Results of House Bill 3559’s Implementation

This House Bill establishes a Statewide Pilot Program for growers. Initially, the plan is to issue 20 licenses to farmers with an initial limit of 20 acres of land. It hoped that in the second year of the program the number of licenses issued can expand to 50 with an acreage limit of 50 per qualified licensee. However, there are some quite strict requirements that all qualified licensees must meet in order to legally grow Industrial Hemp in South Carolina. These non-negotiable conditions are as follows:

All potential licensees are required to pass a South Carolina Law Enforcement background check.
Each licensee must be in active affiliation with an in-State Research University, such as Clemson University. There is also the available option of an affiliation with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture where research on the positive or negative results of cultivating hemp can be tested.
All qualified farmers must be able to provide proof of a contractual agreement with potential buyers who agree to purchase all the hemp products produced under their license.

Bruce Perlowin, CEO of Hemp, Inc. had some very positive comments regarding the passage of this Bill in his neighboring State. “Hemp, Inc.’s 70,000 square foot processing plant is in North Carolina, so we are ecstatic that South Carolina is now the 31st State in the Union legalizing the production of commercial hemp within their borders.” “Hemp, Inc. will gladly contract with the growers to buy most if not all hemp produced.” “This is a win-win for both Hemp, Inc. and the growers.” “This is a sound business strategy that benefits both parties!”