Q. What is hemp?
Hemp is a variety of the plant Cannabis sativa that is low in the chemical THC. Here’s the definition under South Carolina state law: ‘Hemp’ or ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the nonsterilized seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with the federally defined THC level for hemp.
Q. How does hemp differ from marijuana?
Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, but they differ in concentrations of THC. Legally, THC levels determine whether the substance is considered an agricultural product or a regulated drug. Federal and South Carolina law define hemp as any part of the plant with a THC concentration that does not exceed .3 percent on a dried weight basis. Anything above that is considered marijuana and is illegal in the state.
Q. What is THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a naturally occurring chemical responsible for many of marijuana’s psychoactive effects.
Q. What is CBD?
Hemp is a plant and CBD is a compound. Hemp is not CBD. “Partially processed” hemp is not CBD, either. Even “full spectrum” hemp extracts suspended in a carrier oil are more akin to hemp than pure CBD since they contain an array of phytonutrients. Although such extracts include CBD, they cannot in any reasonable sense be called CBD. We are aware that there may be some products on the market that add CBD to a food or label CBD as a dietary supplement. Under federal law, it is currently illegal to market CBD this way. More information can be found in our Hemp Products in Human Food Quick Guide.
Q. What is the maximum percentage of THC that hemp can have?
The THC threshold of hemp that is allowed to be grown is a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, or the THC concentration for hemp defined in 7 U.S.C. SECTION 5940, whichever is greater.
Q. What are hemp’s potential uses?
Hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products including rope, clothes, food, paper, textiles, plastics, insulation, supplements, oils, cosmetics, and biofuel.
Q. What does current state law say about hemp?
On March 28, 2019, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law a bill that expanded the state’s hemp farming program. House Bill H3449 permits people to cultivate, handle, or process hemp if they are eligible to do so and receive approval from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
Q. How many hemp farmers are there in South Carolina?
There are 114 Licensed Hemp Growers in South Carolina. State law previously only allowed for 40 Hemp Grower Licenses for up to 40 acres each to be issued in 2019. Under a newer state law (House Bill H3449), anyone who previously applied for a Hemp Grower License for 2019 became eligible to grow hemp in South Carolina, so long as they successfully passed a federal and state background check and accurately provided: full name, address, GPS coordinates of where hemp is being grown, and a signed letter of intent with a purchaser. A list of Licensed Hemp Growers for 2019 can be found here.
Q. How do I apply to grow hemp?
Applications for 2019 are closed. SCDA will start taking applications for the 2020 growing season in late 2019.
Q. How much is the application fee?
Fees for the 2020 season have not yet been established. For growing season 2019, a $50 non-refundable application fee was required at the time of submission. For those issued a license, SCDA collected a $500 license fee.
Q. Do I have to be an owner of the land? If not, do I have to have a signed agreement with the owner to use the land to grow hemp?
You do not have to be the landowner, but if you are leasing land, you will be required to provide permission from the landowner to participate in the program.
Q. Can I grow hemp under someone else? (like a partnership)
Only one person’s name will be listed on the Grower License. In growing season 2019, SCDA has allowed Licensed Hemp Growers to provide SCDA with a list of other individuals that are involved in the growing process.
Q. Are my employees required to have a background check?
No, at this time, SCDA only requires that the applicant be background checked.
Q. How many acres can I use to grow hemp?
As of March 28, 2019, the number of acres a Licensed Hemp Grower can grow is not limited by state law. However, if you are already a Licensed Hemp Grower, you must apply for the Permit Amendment Application and have approval from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture before expanding your acreage.
Q. Does all the acreage have to be in the same place, or can it be split between a few plots of land?
The land can be split, and if that is the case, all GPS coordinates need to be reported to the SCDA.
Q. Will the acreage have to be fenced in or have any additional security measures?
State law does not address fencing, but the Department of Agriculture requires that Licensed Hemp Growers take reasonable security measures.
Q. Do I have to be a South Carolina resident?
To be a Licensed Hemp Grower in 2019, you are required to be a State of South Carolina resident. The address submitted on the application must be linked to a South Carolina address and is cross-checked with the results of the background check.
Q. How do I apply to be a Licensed Hemp Processor?
Licensed Hemp Processor applications can be found here. The application lays out requirements for participation, including passing a criminal background check, obtaining a Dealers and Handlers License and a Public Weighmaster’s License from the SCDA Consumer Protection Division (if buying hemp from a farmer), and implementing a tracking system, among other requirements.
Q. Is hemp easy to grow?
The 2018 season provided some insight into hemp farming in South Carolina. Hemp is a labor intensive crop. The estimated input cost to grow hemp is between $10,000 and $15,000 per acre. This cost includes labor, seed and transplants or clones.
Q. Are there grants available for hemp farming?
SCDA does not have research-funded grants currently available but is exploring the possibility of funding select research projects.
Q. Can hemp be transported across state lines to be processed?
Yes, as long as the grown crop is transported through states where hemp is legal. Further, after USDA publishes regulations implementing the new hemp production provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, states and Indian tribes may not prohibit the interstate transportation or shipment of hemp lawfully produced under a state or tribal plan or under a license issued under the USDA plan.
Q: Is there any training available for the growing of hemp?
SCDA will not be providing training for the growing of hemp.
Q. How do I determine my field’s THC content?
Testing must be conducted by an ISO certified 3rd party laboratory within 30 days prior to harvest.
Q. Can I self-test my crop’s THC level?
You may conduct tests for your own purposes, but per state law, the official tests that will be submitted to SCDA must be conducted by an ISO certified laboratory.
Q. What if my plants test above .3 percent THC?
If the crop is above .3 percent, the crop will either need to be destroyed or reconditioned. For reconditioning, Licensed Hemp Growers or Licensed Hemp Processors may retain any hemp that tests between three-tenths of one percent to one percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol on a dry weight basis and recondition the hemp product by grinding it with the stem and stalk. Hemp products must not exceed three-tenths of one percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.
Q. Are there any guidelines for the use of insecticides and pesticides for the growing of hemp?
The South Carolina Department of Pesticide Regulation at Clemson University has released a list of pesticides approved for use on hemp in South Carolina. However, a DPR official notes in the news release, “Before any pesticide on this list is used in South Carolina, the grower must first make sure it is registered for use in the state. Pesticide dealers also must ensure that any pesticide on this list is registered in the state before making it available for wholesale or retail purchase by growers.” More information about hemp and pesticides can be found here and here.
**All information is subject to change or being further clarified and cannot be considered legally binding. This information is for advice/planning purposes only.