How We Got Here
The Death and Life of Industrial Hemp
Hemp has been used for thousands of years.
In the 1600s, the British crown required Jamestown colonists to grow it. Early American settlers used hemp for rope, paper, cloth and a variety of textiles.
But in the 1930s, powerful corporate business interests – particularly those tied to timber and synthetic fibers – successfully lobbied Congress to essentially outlaw hemp production through the Marihauna Tax Act. The 1970 Controlled Substances Act classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, which had been reserved for drugs with a high potential abuse. But while hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, hemp has far less THC – the psychoactive chemical that produces euphoric effects.
It wasn’t until the 2014 Farm Bill that hemp pilot programs were authorized under the auspices of state regulators and land-grant universities, like Clemson and South Carolina State University.
South Carolina launched its pilot program in 2017, capping participation at 20 farmers. In 2020, that number reached 265 farmers, and interest continues to grow.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp – classified as having no more than 0.3 percent THC – from the federal list of controlled substances, making it once again a regular commodity.
WHERE WE'RE GOING
Hemp production is a young industry in South Carolina. We believe that with the right administrative support, the industry can grow strong and healthy.
- Assist in quantifying and streamlining reports to the USDA.
- Work with farmers to determine an equitable and profitable payment structure for crops.
While hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, hemp has far less THC. Medicinal and recreational marijuana typically has THC levels between 10 and 27 percent. We believe the current 0.3-percent THC threshold on hemp production should be raised.
- Advocate for an increase in the federal THC threshold for hemp to 1 percent.
- Support establishing hemp processing plants in South Carolina and connect farmers to this infrastructure.
National and state laws governing hemp and marijuana have changed rapidly over the last five to 10 years. We will strive to keep all stakeholders up-to-date on the latest rules, regulations, and industry trends.
- Act as a clearinghouse of information for what farmers, processors, manufacturers and retailers need to know.
- Educate law enforcement on the constantly changing state and federal laws and regulations.