A message from Senator Gerald Malloy on Hemp Industry

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture has now opened the application process for the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, created in H.3559, passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor on May 10, 2017.

The SOUTH CAROLINA INDUSTRIAL HEMP PROGRAM allows for the cultivation of industrial hemp by residents of the state for potential use in such varied products as cloth, construction materials, cordage, fiber, food, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard, and plastics. Under the program, the Department of Agriculture will allow up to twenty permits for the cultivation of up to twenty acres of land per permit in the first year, up to forty permits for the cultivation of up to forty acres in the second and third years, and afterwards the department, along with institutions of higher learning, will evaluate the program to determine the number of permits to be issued and the amount of acreage permitted.

When applying for a permit, each applicant, at a minimum must submit to the department, global positioning system coordinates of where the industrial hemp will be grown and such other required information as fingerprints and the appropriate fees required by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to perform a fingerprint based state criminal records check and for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to perform a national fingerprint-based criminal records check. No person who has been convicted of any felony, or any person convicted of any drug-related misdemeanor or violation in the previous ten years from the date of the application, shall be eligible to obtain a permit. Before the department will issue a permit to the applicant, the applicant must have proof of a signed purchaser with a contract.

The department may charge fees to administer the program, not to exceed one thousand dollars annually per registrant. Applicants must provide written consent allowing SLED to enter onto all premises where industrial hemp is cultivated, processed, or stored for the purpose of conducting physical inspections or ensuring compliance with the program. The legislation includes requirements for periodic laboratory testing to ensure that industrial hemp crops do not have unlawfully high levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, and samples with unlawfully high THC levels are required to be destroyed.

Criminal penalties are established to address the cultivation of industrial hemp as a means of disguising marijuana production or distribution operations. A violation is a misdemeanor that carries a term of imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to three thousand dollars. Universities are authorized to conduct research on industrial hemp as an agriculture commodity and work in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to identify solutions for applications, applicants and new market opportunities for industrial hemp growers. The application and required letter of intent forms can be found on their website – agriculture.sc.gov With the application, you should also find a FAQ page. The application must be mailed or hand-delivered to SCDA (they cannot accept email submissions) and will remain open until 5:00 pm September 15, 2017.

Author: mrollins

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