Earlier this week, I took a scenic drive out on Highway 61 to the town of Ridgeville, South Carolina, home of the Charleston Hemp Company farm. This 250-acre property is the location of the upcoming Charleston Hemp Festival, which will take place on the convenient date of Saturday, April 20th. The festival will be an educational, family-friendly celebration of hemp and its many uses and benefits, with live music, food trucks, vendors, community representatives, and even a petting zoo.
Charleston Hemp Company employees and festival organizers Paige Allen and Malia Young-Williams gave me a tour of the farm, and then we sat down in their office to talk about both the festival and the exciting things that have happened to make a 250-acre hemp farm possible in South Carolina. There is a lot of awesome stuff to see at the facility, and they’ll be offering scheduled educational tours during the festival to give folks some insight into the process behind the hemp-derived products that are showing up in stores all over the state.
As you may know, the hemp plant is part of the cannabis family, and is therefore closely related to marijuana. Hemp plants look similar to marijuana plants, but they have entirely different properties and uses. It’s common knowledge these days that marijuana is widely used for its psychoactive effects, both medically and recreationally. Hemp, on the other hand, does not produce psychoactive effects, and in fact only contains trace levels of THC (.3% or less in industrial hemp in South Carolina), which is of course the part of weed that causes the high. Instead, hemp contains high concentrations of Cannabidiol (CBD), which does not produce a high but does have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties.
CBD was made legal in South Carolina back in 2014 by then-Governor Nikki Haley. At the time, it was still illegal to grow hemp in South Carolina, but it was legal to import hemp and manufacture products containing CBD. In January of 2018, the Department of Agriculture started a pilot program that allowed 20 farmers to grow 20 acres of hemp each. Then, in January of 2019, they bumped that up to 40 farmers and 40 acres each. Finally, in February 2019, the South Carolina government lifted its limits on hemp cultivation in the state, and now farmers can grow as much hemp as they want, as long as they have a permit.
This lifting of regulations has naturally created a boom in the South Carolina hemp industry, and the Charleston Hemp Company is at the forefront. Their facility is the only one in South Carolina that’s equipped to handle growth, full spectrum hemp extraction, and manufacturing of hemp-derived products containing CBD all in-house. They manufacture a wide range of products including lotions, salves, oil tinctures, vapes, roll-on pain creams, beard balm, lip balm, and even hemp joints.
Since hemp cultivation is still in the early stages, there is still much to be learned about the best way to grow it in South Carolina, as well as the many uses for Full Spectrum Hemp Extract. 2018 was the first year that hemp was even legal to grow in South Carolina, and all of the plants that the Charleston Hemp Company grew that year were in pots. Now that it’s coming up on growing season again, they’re getting ready to plant hemp in the ground for the first time. At the time of the Charleston Hemp Festival, the 2019 hemp crop will be starting out in their on-site greenhouse, which will also be open for tours that day.
The government is understandably still strict about hemp cultivation, and farms participating in the pilot program are required by the Department of Agriculture to use all-organic farming practices, which are closely monitored and regulated throughout the growing season. Hemp farmers are also required to perform regular testing on the THC content of their product, which for the Charleston Hemp Company is done by Dr. Mark Hamannn and his team at MUSC. If the South Carolina branch of the DEA gets wind of industrial hemp that contains more than .3% THC, they will come to the farm and cut down all the plants, which is obviously something that hemp farmers would like to avoid. These regulations help ensure that the Full Spectrum Hemp Extract products containing CBD being manufactured in South Carolina are made using pure, unadulterated organic products, and overall helps hemp farmers and manufacturers in the state maintain a high standard of quality.
Even with this booming industry, though, there is still a lack of public knowledge about Full Spectrum Hemp Extract products and hemp in general. Thus, the Charleston Hemp Festival was created with the goal of increasing public knowledge about hemp, while also offering a fun, family-friendly experience at the spacious hemp farm.
The festival grounds are located right on the farm, and the outdoor stage will be set up in a clearing directly across from the main building. There is plenty of parking around the grounds, and the food trucks and vendors will be setup in another clearing adjacent to the stage area. Since the venue is a hemp farm and all, they’ve booked a lineup of blues, rock, and country, or “a farm vibe”, as festival organizer Paige Allen calls it. Artists playing include Chris Wilcox & The Boys, The Mobros, Radio Cure, Brandon Bailey, Not 1/2 Irish, and Joe Gallagher Jr.
Food trucks at the event include Kickin Chicken, Area 51 Foods, Booze Pops, Lolas Lumpia, Snow Bar, Taco in a Bag, Dean’s Meaner Wieners. Vendors will be selling locally-made and sourced products, with a focus on health and wellness. Community leaders from MUSC, the Department of Agriculture, Dorchester Sheriff’s Department, and more will also be on-site offering education about hemp in South Carolina. Fatty’s Beer Works will be serving beer, which includes the Charleston Hemp Company collaboration, 710 Smash IPA and more.
General admission tickets to the Charleston Hemp Festival are $10, and available here. There is also a VIP package available for $30 that includes perks like VIP seating, golf cart transportation from the parking area, VIP bathrooms, and more. The festival will run from 11am to 6pm. Head on out to the Charleston Hemp Company farm on Saturday, April 20th to learn about and celebrate hemp cultivation in South Carolina!