Former S.C. lawmaker and CNN commentator Bakari Sellers has joined the hemp-growing movement in South Carolina.
Sellers' name was on the list of 114 farmers approved by the state Department of Agriculture on Friday as interest in the crop has skyrocketed.
Sellers told The Post and Courier he joined the effort as a means of helping out black farmers on 40 acres in Hampton County.
His investment would range to a half-million dollars, he said, and that by employing farmers, processors and others needed in the hemp-producing pipeline he hoped to provide a benefit in one of the state's poorest — but soil-rich — regions.
The first crop is months away, he said.
Sellers joins former Clemson football coach Danny Ford and former state Rep. Chip Limehouse of Charleston as notable state figures who are planting hemp crops.
Gov. Henry McMaster expanded the program this year when he signed a bill increasing the number of farmers who can participate in the state’s hemp industry and also the amount of acreage they can grow.
“More hemp farmers means more opportunities to learn about hemp’s long-term potential for South Carolina agriculture,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers. “Agribusiness is South Carolina’s largest industry, and we welcome the chance to push it in new directions."
Combined with the original 40 growers who were issued permits in October 2018, there are now 114 permitted hemp farmers from across 34 counties, the department said.
About 3,300 acres total of hemp crop has been planted in the state.
Much of the current demand can be attributed to CBD oil.
CBD is not marijuana. It comes from the hemp plant, a member of the Cannabis genus that, unlike its sister, contains a small amount of THC and doesn’t leave a user feeling high.
Other uses for hemp are as clothing and other such items.
The hemp law requires farmers to successfully pass state and federal background checks and that they attend a mandatory orientation.