COLUMBIA, March 14, 2014– On Thursday afternoon the South Carolina senate sent a bill over to the state house which would authorize the growing and production of industrial hemp within the state, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal ban on the same.
Introduced by Sen. Kevin Bryant along with cosponsors Sen. Lee Bright(R) (challenging US Senator Lindsey Graham) and Sen. Tom Davis(R), S.0839 passed by a 42-0 unanimous vote this week.
The bill reads, in part, “It is lawful for an individual to cultivate, produce, or otherwise grow industrial hemp in this State to be used for any lawful purpose, including, but not limited to, the manufacture of industrial hemp products, and scientific, agricultural, or other research related to other lawful applications for industrial hemp.”
Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $500 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.
This month, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”
…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
Three states – Colorado, Oregon and Vermont – have already passed similar measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities.
S.0839 now moves on to the state house where it will first be assigned to a committee for consideration before the full house has an opportunity to send the bill to Gov. Haley’s desk for a signature.