SC prosecutors give deadline to remove ‘illegal’ hemp

YORK COUNTY, S.C. (Rock Hill Herald) - Prosecutors have given York County stores a deadline to remove hemp products from shelves that officials say are illegal.

The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, said 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett.

The decision came after a Tuesday meeting of heads of York County law enforcement agencies and the county drug unit, Brackett said. The S.C. Attorney General has said in an opinion that aside from licensed growers of legal hemp, it is illegal to possess hemp in South Carolina, Brackett said.

Yet retailers were confused about what is legal.

“We are hoping people get rid of it and no one gets charged,” Brackett said of the deadline decision. “We are trying to be reasonable and give people a chance to get rid of these products.”

Only about 60 licenses for hemp growing have been issued statewide, Brackett said. Possession of hemp products without one of those licenses is illegal, Brackett said.

The decision came after a South Carolina attorney general opinion last week after a law was passed allowing permits to grow industrial hemp. Brackett said that opinion makes it clear it is illegal to possess hemp.

According to S.C. Department of Agriculture, hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, cannabis sativa, but marijuana is the flower of the plant and hemp is the fibers, and they differ in concentrations of THC.

The agriculture department states on its website: “Legally, THC levels determine whether the substance is considered an agricultural product or a regulated drug. The new S.C. law defines industrial hemp as any part of the plant with a THC concentration that does not exceed .3% on a dried weight basis. Anything above that is considered marijuana and is illegal in the state.”

Last week, a few police agencies in the state, including Anderson County, made hemp product arrests.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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