Right now, 114 people are growing hemp legally in South Carolina.
nine of the farmers are in Aiken county.
Newschannel 6’s Ashley Osborne visited Holland Hill Farm where an Aiken couple is growing 40 acres of a strain of the cannabis plant.
Ariel Ezekiel is a mother of four and wife to Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Mark Ezekiel. Recently, they moved from Charleston to their family property in Aiken to grow hemp.
“We got our permit and just decided, ok, we’re allowed to grow 40 acres, let’s do it, we’re all in,” Ezekiel said. “I think, put in about 70,000 seeds.”
Farming is not new to the Ezekiel’s. They have grown other crops in the past, but Ariel says this was much more hands on.
“The planter has a wheel on it and it pokes a hole and it dumps a little bit of water in that hole and then you’ve got 2 people sitting there just putting plants in the holes. We’ve touched every single one of these plants, many, many times,” Ezekiel explains.
There is not a lot of information about growing hemp in South Carolina specifically since prior 2018, no one had legally grown hemp in the Palmetto State in more than 80 years.
“We’ve consulted with so many others,” Ezekiel says. “People in Oregon, but we also have a different climate so while it’s cooler and dryer there, it’s more humid here and we’ve done alright so far.”
Watch the full video below to learn how the Ezekiels turned hay fields and a pine tree forest into rows and rows of hemp plant. Ariel describes some of the high-tech gadgets they have to make sure their hemp plants thrive. Watch the interview below to see how her iPhone helps her farm.
There is also an important difference between marijuana and hemp and it is the level of THC. The THC in a hemp plant is 0.3% or lower.
The marijuana plant and the hemp plant are the same species, but different breeds. Hemp is bred for its fibers, industrial uses and CBD oil. Becuase of its low THC content, hemp is not considered mood-altering. Marijuana, on the other hand, is bred for its high level of THC. It is illegal in Georgia and South Carolina and enforced by the D.E.A. due to its mood-altering effects.
In order to make sure she is growing hemp and not marijuana, Ezekiel relies on her lab, Clearwater BioTech based in Greenville, SC.
Scientist Benji Baker explains they test the Ezekiel’s plants to make sure they comply with the THC guidelines. They also are testing for quality of the cannabinoid profiles.
“Quality changes based on those concentration levels. Our goal at the laboratory is to ensure that the products from the field are actually reaching the consumer with the highest level of integrity,” Baker explains.
Watch the full interview below for more on cannabinoids. CBD and THC are the popular ones. Baker talks about additional cannabinods that could also have health and wellness benefits. Watch the full interview below.
Dr. Marion Snyder explains why it is important for you to know what is in the CBD products you buy to put in and on your body.
“There are no regulations right now that say the plant has to be tested for pesticides so that farm may go use pesticides across the board. If there’s no regulation, they’ve never sent it out, they may own the whole vertical, they may extract that themselves, make a formulation themselves and you never find out that that formulation is now potent with pesticides because, not only was it on the plant, but you’ve now concentrated it,” Dr. Snyder describes.
Dr. Snyder’s advice is to buy from stores that allow you to go online and look the ingredients in the bottle.
Watch the full interview below to see how Clearwater BioTech uses the same standards for their medical testing as they do for their hemp testing. She breaks down why it is important. She also shares how the industry could boost employment opportunities in South Carolina. Watch the full interview below.
As we covered hemp farming in South Carolina and the rise in popularity of CBD products, a question crucial question came up. How do CBD products affect a drug test?
Baker provides an answer that many are probably not going to want to hear.
“We’ve been working with HR directors and employers over the past year,” Baker says. “There is a chance that the CBD that you’ll be taking over the counter has small trace amounts of THC in it and if you take it at a great enough frequency you will build up the THC and potentially be positive on an employment drug test.”
Baker described a situation that happened to friend and college of his who has never ingested marijuana. The man’s drug screen came back positive for marijuana at his doctor’s office. Baker says he did not believe it at first. He assumed there had been an error with the implementation of the test so he asked the friend to send him the sample directly. Baker says, sure enough, his friend who has never tried marijuana, tested positive for it.
Check out the extended interview below about CBD and drug tests.
While there is a possibility CBD bring up a red flag on a drug test, Baker says it is not likely.
“Our individual genetics play a monstrous role in the ability to clear this medication,” Baker points out.
According to Baker, the issue of a legal substance causing a positive result on a drug test is nothing new.
“The morphine levels that we saw in Department of Transportation tests had to be adjusted by the regulatory committees. The poppy seeds that you get on a poppy seed bagel can make you positive for morphine,” Baker explains. “That’s why we feel that the answer is really, raising level that they test THC at allowing the population to enjoy the CBD portion without having the risk of being positive on a drug test.”
Baker raising the level at which THC is tested would take some time and effort, but he thinks it would be an easy solution.