Industrial Hemp Will Soon Sprout Roots in South Carolina
SUMTER, SC (DANA FULTON, WACH-TV) — The Department of Agriculture is hoping to plant some new seeds in the form of dollars, but the cash crop comes with some controversy.
A little crop is putting its roots back into South Carolina soil – hemp.
“This is industrial hemp. This is fiber, this is grain, this is cold pressed oil.”
In 2017, South Carolina passed the Industrial Hemp Bill, a pilot research-based program with 20 farmers participating from across the state.
That includes Nat Bradford of Bradford Family Farm in Sumter. His family has been growing crops on this land for generations.
“It’s a tremendous plant with tremendous historic value,” he said. “We’re just excited to have a chance to bring it back.”
“It is an opportunity for us to diversify our crop mix, which we think is needed in South Carolina,” said Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Department of Agriculture Commissioner.
The first phase will allow research to understand where hemp grows best in South Carolina.
“It’s not just dropping a seed in the ground,” said Bradford.
“Is it our sandy, low soils? Or do we go Upstate to our more clay based soils,” asks Weathers. “The first couple of years are really going to be telling us a lot about the prospects of this crop.”
How the plant grows will show how much money South Carolina could sow from the hemp industry.
Those against growing hemp say the plant is a variety of cannabis and too much like marijuana.
However, Bradford points out the difference.
“To call hemp and marijuana the same… Maybe generically like genus and species they might be. But if you look at dogs… to say a wolf and a Chihuahua are the same? Same species. But very, very different.”
That difference is the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC – the chemical in marijuana that gets you high.
“I’ve been told by experts the only thing you get if you smoke industrial hemp is a bad migraine headache,” explained Weathers.
Hemp farmers are trying to introduce a new business in South Carolina — one with positive impacts from fiber to medicinal oils.
“This stuff is good, and I think what folks are starting to find out is that healing doesn’t come in a test tube. This stuff is hardwired in creation. Its in the seeds, the plants, its in this beautiful creation that God made.”
According to DHEC, hemp is used to make all kinds of rope, clothes, food and paper. It has both commercial and industrial uses.