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Southern states like South Carolina aren’t known for their acceptance or legal progressiveness with cannabis. Getting caught with marijuana or growing it has strict criminal repercussions. Yet, on the brighter side of the law, we’re seeing positive momentum with cannabis — more specifically, hemp.
When the 2018 Farm Bill went into effect, many states, including South Carolina decided to participate in legal hemp farming. Not only as a means to boost their agricultural economy, but to allow CBD based products to its open-armed residents.
In this article, we’ll explore what the Farm Bill meant for South Carolina, how the swiftly made changes happen, and opportunities open. Also, we’ll cover CBD laws, and talk about your legal rights to smokable hemp flower. Let’s jump right in.
South Carolina hemp laws
During 2018, South Carolina approved its first hemp growing permits to qualified farmers in the state. A total of 20 farmers planted hemp seeds in the ground for the first time in over 80 years. That’s a big deal.
When 2019 rolled around, there were hundreds of applicants and 114 of them received growing permits. And 43 processors were issued. Even more, during the 2020 application process for farmers, the state received more than 350 applicants. The window for applying to grow hemp in South Carolina runs from February 1 to March 31 each year.
However, individuals can submit an application to process and handle hemp plants year-round. The fee is $100, and if approved, the cost of the permit is $3,000. So, this is a serious investment for many. For one, not many have experience with hemp given its absence from the agricultural and legal landscape for many years.
But, with the growing demand and lucrative financial forecasts for hemp-derived health and wellness products, as well as industrial use demand, it makes sense for a lot of people. One of the stipulations for becoming a processor is to pass an inspection of the processing facilities. Also, every applicant, regardless of the type of permit he or she wants to apply for, must be an individual, not a business.
Furthermore, all applicants must be a resident of South Carolina, pass a criminal background check, and fulfill all requirements of the application.
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) is the local governing body that supervises hemp growing, processing, and handling. It’s up to them to approve or deny each application that comes in. They’re also in charge of overseeing the THC testing process of all hemp crops growing in the state.
Finally, the Hemp Farming State Plan submitted by the SCDA got approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal regulatory body that oversees “all things hemp”. In other words, the plan enacted at the state level, has the federal buy off.
South Carolina state CBD laws
With hemp farming becoming legal in the state, what does that mean for CBD products? Let’s back up for a second. Cannabidiol of CBD is one of the main active components of the hemp plant. You’ll also find CBD in marijuana strains, but not in very high concentrations.
Hemp, on the other hand, contains high levels of CBD. Some hemp strains have up to 20%, while others may only contain 10 to 12%. The higher percentage doesn’t equate to high quality, it just implies the strength is high. Meaning, the effects could be more potent in a higher cannabidiol strain, compared to one with a lower percentage.
Besides the CBD percentage, another important piece of legal hemp products is the THC content. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis plants. It causes a head rush, and intoxicating effects. At the federal level this cannabinoid is still illegal, with one exception.
Any CBD hemp flower strain must contain less than 0.3% THC to be legal. Some states allow higher percentages, but those states have recreational and medical cannabis programs in place. Federally, there are no such programs.
Also, South Carolina is not one of the 33 states in the United States with a medical program or recreational program. That means all CBD products must have less than the legal limit of 0.3% THC. Otherwise, the product is illegal.
Is CBD hemp flower legal in South Carolina?
Yes, hemp flower in South Carolina is legal. According to the South Carolina Hemp Plan, “hemp or ‘industrial hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the non-sterilized seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with the federally defined THC level for hemp.”
Under this state law, any part of the hemp plant with less than 0.3% THC is legal. Therefore, hemp flower strains that meet this restriction can be bought, sold, consumed, and smoked in South Carolina.
Can I smoke CBD flower in public?
Although you can consume hemp flower legally in South Carolina, there are some rules about where you can and cannot smoke it. You see, hemp’s cousin, marijuana, is still illegal in the state. Given the similarities of both these plant varieties in smell and appearance, the two can easily get confused. Especially by a legal system that’s been regulating the plant for decades.
So, you’ll want to smoke your hemp buds in a private space, like your home or a friend’s house. This way you’re staying discreet, are comfortable, and not causing any unwanted attention.
How to pick hemp flower in South Carolina
Once you’ve decided to give hemp buds a try, it’s time to start shopping. Do you shop at a local store near you, or look for something online? The choice is up to you, because you’ll find CBD flower in South Carolina, and there’s a great selection of strains online. And most online hemp flower dispensaries ship to all 50 states.
It’s hard to know what your local CBD or convenience store has on hand at any given time. So, if you want a bigger selection of flower in stock, take a look at some online shops. Not all are equal of course, but there are ways to tell the “good” from the “bad”.
The source of hemp
First things first. Find out where the company sources its hemp flower from. Since hemp farming is legal in the United States, is a regulated crop, and undergoes THC testing, the quality of hemp flower from the U.S. is great. Make sure the online company you’re shopping from lists the state where their flower originates from.
All reputable CBD companies mention the source of their hemp. It’s a reg flag if you can’t find it shown nowhere on the site.
Third-party lab testing
Once you confirm the CBD strain originated from a domestic location, read through the Certificate of Analysis (COA). This is the name of the third-party lab test. The report will show you the percentage of cannabinoids. So, you’ll get teo verify the CBD percentage that’s advertised on the website, and confirm the THC levels are below 0.3%.
Who is the company?
Learn as much as you can about the company. Why did they enter the CBD industry, what’s their mission statement, what about their vision? It helps to have a connection and a basic trust in a company before buying their product.
Besides reading the content on their site, read some customer reviews. See if past customers made any comments about the quality of the hemp flower. And whether the company and its team provided good customer service.
In general, it’s easier to make a decision about who to buy from when you get a sense of the company’s characters and agenda. Are they in it to make a quick buck, or do they truly care about the well-being and happiness of their customers?
Ways to consume premium hemp flower
We say “premium” because that’s the only kind of flower we recommend. Why settle for anything less except the best, especially when the prices of organic CBD nugs are reasonable and affordable.
The most common way to consume hemp flower is to smoke it. You can roll your own CBD joint, pack some ground up material in your pipe or bong and you’re all set. But, there’s also a few other creative ways to use your flower. You can infuse it into oil or butter and later use some for a baking recipe. Instead, you can use your CBD oil and create a lotion or cream from it.
Or if it’s a cold winter and you’re making yourself a hot cup of tea once or twice a day, you can make CBD tea with your flower. The sky’s the limit.
Hemp flower in South Carolina is legal. It’s legal to grow, proces, and handle the plant with a permit from the SCDA, and it’s legal to consume as a resident. When you’re shopping for artisan hemp flower, make sure the company is reputable. That it has third party lab testing reports and discloses the source of its hemp.