Could hemp be state's next big cash crop? Lawmakers weigh options

Published: Feb. 24, 2014 at 9:23 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2014 at 9:23 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are opening the door to allow marijuana back into South Carolina in one form or another.

Senators say industrialized hemp farms are a multi-million dollar industry that would thrive in the state, but to let this industry in, they'll have to nullify a federal ban on the plant.

Lawmakers want to make clear: allowing hemp farms is not an open door for marijuana. Both hemp and marijuana are from the same species of plant, but are genetically different. The proposed legislation even states marijuana can't grow on the same property as the hemp.

Lawmakers say hemp has dozens of uses that are not drug-related, and has the potential to provide a cash crop for South Carolina's farmers.

"It can be used as a food product, it can be used for manufacturing, there's a lot of different uses for hemp," said Sen. Lee Bright. "It's something I think the state should do. It would be good for the economy."

Ten states have welcomed industrialized hemp production, while 32 have introduced pro-hemp legislation. This bill heads to the full Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.