COLUMBIA, SC — A Republican Senator from South Carolina has introduced a bill that would allow the cultivation of industrial hemp by the state’s farmers.
Introduced by Senator Kevin L. Bryant (R-Anderson County), Senate Bill 839 would exclude hemp from the definition of marijuana and make it lawful to grow industrial hemp in the state.
The bill makes it lawful for “an individual to cultivate, produce, or otherwise grow industrial hemp in this State to be used for any lawful purpose, including, but not limited to, the manufacture of industrial hemp products, and scientific, agricultural, or other research related to other lawful applications for industrial hemp.”
The bill would impose stiff penalties for anyone using industrial hemp to disguise a marijuana grow, adding an additional 5 years in jail and $5,000 fine on top of any other penalties. Marijuana cultivation for any purpose in South Carolina remains illegal.
The bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia have defined industrial hemp as a distinct agricultural crop and removed barriers to its production. Legislation is pending in several other states to do the same.
Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.
Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing.
Over thirty countries produce industrial hemp, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.
The world’s leader in hemp production is China.