South Carolina Opens Hemp Licensing Period

The state department of agriculture will accept applications until Feb. 28.

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January 7, 2021

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) opened up hemp cultivation licensing for the 2021 growing season Jan. 1. The licensing period runs until Feb. 28.

South Carolina has come a long way from its first year of hemp cultivation in 2018 when the state licensed 20 growers (its max that year per state law). In 2020, the SCDA licensed 265 farmers who grew nearly 5,300 acres of hemp outdoors and nearly 100 additional indoor acres, says a SCDA spokesperson.

The ag department pointed out in a press release that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved South Carolina’s hemp plan in April 2020, reining in “a new period of regulatory stability, one that SCDA expects to continue in 2021.” South Carolina’s hemp plan now aligns with the 2018 Farm Bill.

Allison Justice, Ph.D., the owner of The Hemp Mine LLC, told Hemp Grower that regulatory uncertainty was a major hang-up for farmers in the state last year. 

“In states like South Carolina, we feel like we’re going backwards,” Justice says in the March/April cover story of Hemp Grower. “... I can name a handful of farmers that have made the decision not to grow hemp or not to grow it again because there were already such difficulties in joining this industry that it’s just kind of the last straw. It’s just not worth it.”

The SCDA also noted that it now has six full-time staffers devoted to hemp regulation.

Hemp licenses in South Carolina cost $1,000, plus a $100 nonrefundable application fee. Getting a license also requires attending an SCDA orientation and signing a Hemp Farming Agreement before possessing any form of hemp.

Permits are valid for one year.

All farmers must apply online at agriculture.sc.gov/hemp.