The South Carolina legislature will consider a bill legalizing industrial hemp within Palmetto State borders during the 2014 session.

Sen. Kevin L. Bryant (R) introduced S0839 last month. The bill would allow industrial hemp farming in the State of South Carolina, nullifying the federal ban on the plant.

The bill would “provide that it is lawful to grow industrial hemp in this state; to clarify that industrial hemp is excluded from the definition of marijuana; to prohibit growing industrial hemp and marijuana on the same property or otherwise growing marijuana in close proximity to industrial hemp to disguise the marijuana growth; and to define necessary terms.”

Industrial hemp falls under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. It technically remains legal to grow in the U.S., but farmers must first obtain a permit from the DEA, a nearly impossible feat. When or even if Washington will free the industrial hemp market remains a huge question mark. A recent Department of Justice memo declaring it won’t challenge marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington perhaps cracked the door open for hemp production, but it remains unclear if the feds will take the same lenient position on the crop.

The proposed South Carolina law simply ignores the federal prohibition and opens the door to hemp cultivation in South Carolina. It would allow the state to develop in intrastate market and poise it to lead the way if Washington opens up the interstate market.

Experts count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and biofuel. The U.S. currently imports hemp products, primarily from China and Canada.

S0839 was referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. Sen Bryant sits on that committee.

ACTION ITEMS

If you live in South Carolin, contact the members of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and ask them to call a hearing on S0839 and pass it on to the full Senate. You can find committee contact information HERE.

Contact your own senator and ask him or her to support S0839. You can find Senate contact information HERE.

If you live outside of South Carolina, contact your representative and senator and ask them to legalize industrial hemp. You can track efforts across the U.S. and find model legislation HERE.


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