As marijuana becomes legal across more of the country, confusion arises in states like South Carolina where marijuana and hemp products are sold but marijuana continues to be illegal. Here are a few things you should know about marijuana, THC, and hemp in South Carolina.
- Marijuana is still illegal in South Carolina. In 2022, a medical marijuana bill called the “SC Compassionate Care Act” failed to pass in the state legislature. This bill would have allowed twelve medical conditions to be treated with non-smokable medical cannabis after in-person doctor approval. According to the bill sponsors, the bill will be reintroduced in 2023. There are currently no bills that would legalize marijuana for any other purposes or uses.
- “Hemp” is legal in South Carolina. Hemp is any part of the sativa plant that has a THC concentration that does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dried weight basis. Anything above that is considered marijuana and is illegal in South Carolina. Hemp can be sold as a supplement, oil, or cosmetic for personal use or for industrial uses such as rope, paper, or biofuel. To grow hemp in South Carolina, you must be a permitted hemp farmer through the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. To possess raw or unprocessed hemp, you must have a hemp handler permit. Remember – hemp products are not regulated in South Carolina. If you have a hemp product or by-product, you are trusting the source that it falls with in the legal limit of THC concentration. It may not and the producer does not have to test the product to properly inform you of the concentration. The police WILL test it if it is seized from you, so buyer beware.
- SLED and the Attorney General say that delta-8 THC is NOT legal in South Carolina. Many hemp producers also produce delta-8 THC products such as vape liquids, edibles, and other products for personal consumption. You may have seen them for sale at independent smoke shops or at the gas station. The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion in October of 2021 stating that delta-8 is not covered by the Hemp Farming Act and is therefore illegal. The opinion says that delta-8 is not considered a natural derivative of cannabis (unlike delta-9) and since it is not a natural extract, it is illegal. While this is not a law, it is the interpretation of the Attorney General and will be relied upon by prosecutors if you are arrested for possession of delta-8.
- Delta-9 THC IS legal in South Carolina. Unlike delta-8, delta-9 THC is considered legal in South Carolina. Delta-9 is considered “naturally” derived from cannabis plants and, so long as the concentration is below the 0.3 percent threshold, delta-9 products are covered by the Hemp Farming Act as of the publication of this blog.
Marijuana and THC are against federal law even where it is not against state law. Even in states where it is “legal” federal marijuana charges by federal law enforcement can be brought. Marijuana law is changing across the county and can be confusing. If you are arrested for a marijuana offense, you will want to talk to a lawyer to understand and protect your rights. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney, Jennifer Wells today.