Is CBD oil legal in South Carolina? Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward. Here's everything you need to know and more. South Carolina’s Hemp Farming Act and the 2018 Farm Bill allows hemp cultivation, processing, handling, & selling in the state. Learn more.
CBD Oil in South Carolina [Understanding the Laws]
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CBD, for all its popularity, can be a complicated matter. This compound has caused quite a stir. It burst onto the scene a few years ago, with consumers eager to give it a try. Now, it is an industry worth billions of dollars.
Despite all this, it remains controversial. As a cannabinoid, CBD is generally harvested from hemp rather than marijuana. However, years of vilification and criminalization have made the distinction between the two plants less than clear.
Federal and state laws are at a disconnect regarding marijuana and CBD. The situation is also changing all the time, leaving CBD users in a perplexing situation.
South Carolina residents may wish to know where CBD stands legally, especially given the numerous CBD stores dotted throughout the state.
This guide breaks down the current situation with CBD oil in South Carolina and briefly looks into the state’s marijuana laws.
Is CBD Oil Legal in South Carolina?
The situation with CBD remains, unfortunately, complicated. Most citizens don’t quite know the rules, although it does seem as if CBD is permitted in the state now that hemp is no longer on the list of controlled substances. It appears as if South Carolina has followed the rules of the 2018 Farm Bill, with farmers now allowed to grow the substance legally.
South Carolina CBD Law – Julian’s Law
In 2014, Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed Senate Bill 1035 into law. It is also known as Julian’s Law, and it passed following a unanimous vote in the Senate and a 92-5 House vote.
It is a state law that allows children with severe, untreatable epilepsy to use CBD oil (with a maximum of 0.9% THC and a minimum of 15% CBD). That is, as long as a licensed physician certifies that the patient is eligible.
Currently, only one CBD-based drug is approved by the FDA: Epidiolex. This drug treats epilepsy patients under particular circumstances, and federal law prevents doctors from prescribing any other forms of cannabidiol.
South Carolina Hemp Farming Act
The existence of Julian’s Law implies that one may only use CBD oil if a physician has provided a certification. However, this fact is complicated by the 2018 Farm Bill.
Every five years or so, the federal government updates its agriculture and farming laws in the Farm Bill. The most recent change came in 2018, during which the Hemp Farming Act was established. The federal government defined hemp as any cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. Effectively, this decriminalized hemp and its non-intoxicating by-products – such as CBD.
The state passed an Industrial Hemp Bill in May 2017, over 18 months before the 2018 Farm Bill. However, it was the South Carolina Hemp Farming Act of March 2019 that helped the industry grow. This legislation removed limits on allowable hemp cultivation land.
Now that the South Carolina Hemp Farming Act allows hemp growing, it seems as if CBD products are permitted in the state.
Now that the South Carolina Hemp Farming Act allows hemp growing, it seems as if CBD products derived from hemp with a maximum of 0.3% THC are permitted in the state.
However, SC recognizes CBD as an active ingredient in an FDA-approved drug (Epidiolex). Therefore, it bans the sale and manufacture of food products containing CBD alone. Adding the cannabinoid in any food or beverage violates section 301 (II) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
However, it is legal to use hemp and specific derivatives, like full-spectrum hemp oil, as ingredients or food additives. Ultimately, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture does NOT approve CBD isolate as a hemp food ingredient.
What Are the Marijuana Laws in South Carolina?
At present, SC residents have no option but to purchase CBD oil because marijuana remains completely illegal. Code 44-53-110 effectively bans cannabis and its derivations, such as cannabinoids. Therefore, cannabis oils and similar products are prohibited in the state. Possession and use of such items can warrant both fines and imprisonment.
Some would claim that “Julian’s Law” is a medical marijuana law, but it’s a little more complicated than that. This law does not permit ‘medical marijuana’ in its raw and natural form. Instead, it allows qualifying patients to use oils with a maximum of 0.9% THC.
In 2019, lawmakers briefly considered passing the Compassionate Care Act, which would have allowed qualifying patients to possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana. However, it did not pass.
Supporters of MMJ in South Carolina keep fighting, and there is another bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state on the table. The latest version of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act must pass the Senate first. The House Speaker, Jay Lucas, has promised to let the bill go through the House Process if it gets that far.
The bill will permit MMJ patients to buy and possess up to two ounces of marijuana every two weeks if passed. It will also involve approving 15 licenses for vertically integrated cannabis businesses, and the state can have up to 100 licensed MMJ dispensaries.
Although a recent poll found that SC residents favored medical marijuana legalization by a ratio of five to one, the latest attempt to legalize weed in South Carolina faces an uphill task.
Cannabis Penalties in South Carolina
South Carolina has not decriminalized marijuana, so the possession of any amount is a misdemeanor with a potential 30-day jail term. A second offense could result in a year spent behind bars. The possession of over 10 grams of hash or concentrates carries a maximum prison term of five years!
The sale or cultivation of any amount of marijuana is a felony with a possible five years imprisonment as the punishment.
Where to Buy CBD Oil in South Carolina?
As the penalties are severe, you must be very careful when checking out CBD stores in South Carolina. Please ensure that you only buy from sellers that produce a third-party lab report with their products. Remember, if your CBD oil contains more than 0.3% THC, it is classified as a marijuana product.
We’ve taken the liberty of providing a list of physical stores that sell CBD products in South Carolina, as well as several online stores with excellent reputations.
Local Stores in South Carolina
Name of Store
Herbal Passion, LLC
845 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407
6513, 704 Seaboard St unit f, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
The Bizarre Bazaar Smoke Shop
7523 Garners Ferry Rd B, Columbia, SC 29209
1553 N Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville, SC 29609
2112 S Irby St, Florence, SC 29505
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil in South Carolina
The South Carolina example shows that CBD legislation is not always clear-cut. Laws are changing all the time, too, and it can be tough to keep up.
At the time of writing, it appears that hemp-derived CBD products with a maximum THC content of 0.3% are permitted. After all, numerous CBD stores and businesses operate throughout the state without repercussions. However, please note that South Carolina doesn’t allow the sale and manufacture of food products containing CBD isolate.
All products must contain a low level of THC. Otherwise, they are classed as marijuana – both federally and within the state.
With all the revenue that CBD brings, it’s unlikely that hemp or CBD will be explicitly banned any time soon. However, marijuana remains firmly illegal in this state. As a result, all products must contain a low level of THC. Otherwise, they are classed as marijuana – both federally and within the state.
Only children with severe epilepsy can use products with slightly more THC. Even then, Julian’s Law only allows a maximum of 0.9% THC.
Is CBD Legal in South Carolina? – August 2022
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and other industrial hemp-based products are legal in South Carolina, though there are a few restrictions (7) .
State residents may grow, process, and sell industrial hemp and hemp-derived products as long as they acquire the necessary permits (8) .
Industrial hemp and marijuana are both Cannabis sativa plants; however, only one variety is considered federally legal in the United States.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill and South Carolina laws, cannabis plants with less than 0.30% THC concentration on a dried weight basis are classified as industrial hemp and considered legal (9) .
Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the main psychoactive phytocannabinoid in cannabis plants that induces a high among users.
Any cannabis plant or cannabis-derived product with a THC level above 0.30% is classified as marijuana and is still illegal in many states.
It is important to note that, although hemp-derived products are legal in South Carolina, the state prohibits the sale and manufacture of food products that contain CBD alone .
The state recognizes CBD, a non-psychoactive compound or cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, as an active ingredient in a drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (10) .
The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) noted that CBD alone , as an active ingredient in a drug and the subject of many clinical investigations, in any food or drink violates section 301(II) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (11) .
However, hemp and specific hemp derivatives, such as full-spectrum hemp extracts or oil, may still be used as food additives or ingredients (12) .
The SCDA clarified that because hemp extracts contain a variety of cannabinoids aside from CBD, they cannot be considered pure CBD (13) .
Among the three different types of CBD, only CBD isolates are not SCDA -approved as a hemp food ingredient (14) .
CBD isolates contain pure cannabidiol only. Meanwhile, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD contain a wide array of components, such as cannabinoids, terpenes or aromatic compounds, and essential oils.
The difference between full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD products is the THC content.
Broad-spectrum CBD contains the majority of the compounds naturally found in industrial hemp plants, except for THC.
In South Carolina, full-spectrum hemp oils extracted from whole hemp plants may be legally added to food, provided that the hemp products are not labeled as CBD and do not make any health claims (15) .
South Carolina CBD Laws
CBD has been legal in South Carolina prior to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill at the federal level, albeit in a very limited way. The state also had hemp farming laws years before the federal law was passed.
After the 2018 Farm Bill was enacted, South Carolina showed its support of the bill through new legislation that amended and relaxed the state’s existing laws on hemp cultivation.
Note that South Carolina laws do not include any mention of synthetic marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids. All relevant hemp laws in the state only pertain to industrial hemp, hemp-derived products, including CBD oil, and low-THC medical marijuana.
The following laws played roles in the legalization of CBD in the P almetto s tate:
Julian’s Law (SB1035)
The use of marijuana, hemp, and other cannabis-derived products have been strictly prohibited since 1970 by the Controlled Substances Act. This statute designated cannabis as a Schedule I substance (16) .
However, South Carolina’s Senate Bill 1035 allowed the limited legalization and use of medical cannabis for certain medical conditions.
The then Governor Nikki Haley signed Julian’s Law or SB1035, a cannabidiol and medical marijuana law, on June 2, 2014.
The bill allowed patients diagnosed with severe forms of epilepsy, including Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, to legally use medical marijuana and cannabidiol (17) .
Minors with seizure disorders were also allowed to be treated with medical marijuana or CBD oil upon the recommendation of their doctor and the permission of their parents or guardians (18) .
It should be proven that patients are unresponsive to traditional medical treatments before they can take medical marijuana or CBD .
Moreover, the law exempted the use of medical marijuana and CBD oil that had at least 15% CBD and less than 0.9% THC content (19) .
Industrial Hemp Bill (HB3559)
The South Carolina legislature passed House Bill 3559 or Industrial Hemp Bill a year before the federal government enacted the 2018 Farm Bill.
HB3559, which was signed on May 10, 2017, created the South Carolina Industrial Hemp Program and legalized industrial hemp cultivation.
Industrial hemp was recognized as an agricultural crop under the bill. The legislation also allowed 20 permit holders to grow hemp on up to 20 acres of land for research purposes during the pilot program’s first year (20) .
Forty permitted hemp growers were allowed to grow their crops on up to 40 acres of land during the second and third years of the program (21) .
The state’s Department of Agriculture and universities would evaluate the program upon the fourth and succeeding years to decide on the number of permits and acres of land allowable for cultivation.
South Carolina Hemp Farming Act (HB3449)
Following federal law’s removal of industrial hemp and hemp-based products from the Controlled Substances Act, South Carolina moved to lighten its restrictions on hemp cultivation.
The state enacted House Bill 3449 or the Hemp Farming Act on March 28, 2019, which removed the limit on allowable hemp cultivation land.
The Hemp Farming Act also allowed permit holders to grow hemp for commercial purposes (22) .
South Carolina residents may cultivate, process, and sell industrial hemp within the state provided that they are at least 18 years old and received permits from the SCDA.
The permits have strict restrictions on what the recipients are allowed to do and must be renewed annually from the issuance date.
Hemp processor and hemp handler permit applications are accepted throughout the year. However, hemp farmer permit applications are only accepted during the year’s first quarter.
Hemp farmer permit applications for the 2020 growing season closed on March 31, 2020 (23) .
Applicants that plan to set up hemp businesses that deal with growing, farming, processing, and selling hemp all-in-one need to apply for a hemp farmers permit, hemp growers permit, and other necessary licenses related to processing industrial hemp.
Hemp Farmer/Growers Permit
Individuals or businesses applying for a hemp farmer permit must pay an annual fee of $1,000. Applicants are not given their permits until the SCDA has received the payment (24) .
Aside from the annual fee, applicants must also show proof of South Carolina residency and undergo a criminal background check.
Hemp farmer permit holders are allowed to cultivate industrial hemp plants. They are also allowed to store, handle, transport, and market raw hemp plant parts (25) .
Hemp Processor Permit
Hemp processor permit applicants are required to pay an annual permit fee of $3,000 per location and a non-refundable application fee of $100.
Individuals and businesses that want to process hemp plants must also get a South Carolina Dealer and Handler License and a South Carolina Weighmaster License (26) . Both licenses have separate applicable fees and requirements.
Each processing location requires a separate hemp-processing permit, dealer or handler license, and weighmaster license.
Additionally, each facility needs to pass inspections before the applicants can receive their hemp processor permits.
Hemp processor permit holders are also allowed to store, handle, transport, and market hemp plant parts (27) .
Hemp Handler Permit
Hemp handler permits are required for individuals and businesses to store, transport, and otherwise work with hemp, apart from growing and processing.
However, retailers, including online stores, are not given handler permits and are not required to obtain one (28) .
Hemp handler permit applicants pay a $1,000 annual fee and a $100 non-refundable application fee.
The SCDA has different hemp handler permit categories:
- Seed d ealer or supplier
- Warehouse, storage, or drying facility
- Other s (broker, research and development, sales representatives)
Under the interim final rule released by the US Department of Agriculture in October 2019, Industrial hemp and its derivatives may legally be transported or shipped across state lines for processing (29) .
The South Carolina Hemp Farming Act requires hemp growers to conduct periodic and stringent laboratory testing to ensure that the crops’ THC levels remain no more than 0.30%.
Hemp crops with THC levels exceeding the allowable amount are required to be destroyed in the presence of law enforcement (30) .
The SCDA collects hemp plant samples within 15 days before the scheduled harvest. No more than 1% of the plants should have THC content over the allowable 0.30% (31) .
All fees related to hemp or CBD-testing are shouldered by the individual or business hemp permit holders.
Buying CBD Legally
Current South Carolina laws do not include age restrictions for buying CBD.
Both the Industrial Hemp Bill and the South Carolina Hemp Farming Act have a minimum age restriction of 18 years for individuals applying for hemp grower, processor, and handler permits.
CBD retailers in South Carolina also often restrict selling CBD products to customers at least 18 years of age, as per the widely accepted age of majority in the US.
The state also defers to the FDA’s recommended age restrictions for CBD products. The agency allows vapor oils and smokable hemp to be sold to legal adults or people at least 18 years old only (32) .
However, some online retailers in South Carolina and other states ask visitors to confirm that they are 21 years of age or older.
Thus, CBD oil and other hemp products are legally available for purchase in South Carolina for any person.
Only a medical prescription is requir ed for individuals, especially minors, with severe forms of epilepsy and those who need low-THC cannabidiol or medical cannabis. However, the patients are not required to have a medical marijuana ID card (33) .
The FDA has yet to generally approve CBD oil and other CBD products as supplements, medical drugs, or treatment except for certain rare childhood diseases. Still, consumers can buy over-the-counter CBD without any prescriptions (34) .
How to Choose Which CBD Products to Buy
CBD and hemp-derived products are available in different forms, such as tinctures, vape oils, gummies, topicals, and capsules.
To discover the best CBD products and shops, consumers should choose CBD companies that make the product information, such as the CBD type and concentration, readily available.
Additionally, it is best to look up stores and brands online to check their Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating, customer reviews, or consumer reports to ensure the high quality of their products.
The BBB website features highly rated and accredited CBD businesses in the state. The website also features non-accredited businesses that are still highly reviewed by customers, such as Charlotte CBD in Columbia, SC.
Smokable Hemp in South Carolina
Industrial hemp may also be available as a smokable product, though South Carolina consumers are recommended to avoid purchasing raw, smokable hemp.
The advice to avoid purchasing smokable hemp spread among retailers and consumers after the incumbent S tate Attorney General stated in 2019 that as the possession of raw and unprocessed hemp without a license is unlawful, law enforcement officers may deem smokable hemp flowers as against the law (35) .
It may be safer for individuals with smokable hemp to keep and use it at home to avoid possible legal repercussions. Recall that you are always at your own risk, and that this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice.
Consumers buying and using smokable hemp are also advised to make sure that their products are made from natural hemp rather than synthetic cannabinoids.
Synthetic cannabinoids, also called synthetic marijuana, are mind-altering and laboratory-made substances that mimic marijuana’s effects (36) . They are commonly used like vape oil for vaping or smoking.
Synthetic marijuana is an illegal and highly potent hallucinogen that can cause elevated heart rate and unconsciousness (37) . It may also result in psychosis and paranoia (38) .
Moreover, the effects of these man-made substances can be unpredictable and much more potent than natural marijuana, which may lead to fatal consequences (39) .
Where to Buy CBD Products Legally
Industrial hemp-derived CBD products are allowed to be sold in dispensaries, market outlets, and online stores under the 2018 Farm Bill, barring individual state restrictions (40) .
South Carolina does not require retailers to obtain a handler’s permit to sell CBD and hemp products (41) .
Customers may visit health and wellness retailers to purchase CBD oil and other CBD products. Many retailers and CBD brands also offer curb-side pick-ups and online shopping options.
A quick Google search for CBD retailers in the P almetto state shows a fairly thriving CBD industry, with over 40 stores and brands consumers may choose from.
Some of the highly rated and BBB-accredited CBD stores in South Carolina are Essential Vapors & CBD in Lexington, SC , and AJ’s Coastal Bliss District in Conway, SC.
A BBB accreditation is proof that the business met the organization’s accreditation standards, including ethical business practices and a commendable effort to resolve any consumer complaints (42) .
Additionally, consumers may order CBD products online , directly through the brand websites or via third-party online retailers. Some websites may require a quick confirmation that their visitors are either 18 or 21 years old.
The Cannabis Pharmacy is a Charleston, SC-based retailer with an online store that carries different CBD brands.
The sale, purchase, and usage of CBD oil and other industrial hemp-derived products are legal in South Carolina.
The legality of CBD and CBD products hinges on the THC concentration. Both federal and state law requires CBD products to have below 0.30% THC content on a dry weight basis to remain legal. Legal state prescriptions may be allowed higher concentrations to 0.9%.
Although South Carolina permits the sale of CBD products, consumers should note that adding pure CBD to food is not allowed in South Carolina. However, state policies and penalties differ per state.
Moreover, consumers are advised to remain cautious when buying or using CBD, particularly CBD products that make health claims. They are encouraged to educate themselves on CBD and be on the lookout for cannabis news, research, and developments.
The FDA notes that despite the continuing development in CBD research and the many studies that indicate CBD’s promise as a treatment for different health conditions, the agency has only approved one CBD drug for epilepsy.