South Carolina hemp farmer files federal lawsuit over destroyed crops

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The first person to be charged with unlawfully cultivating hemp under South Carolina’s Hemp Farming Act is suing several state agencies, alleging he wasn’t given due process before his crops were destroyed.

Farmer John Trenton Pendarvis filed a federal lawsuit against the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the Department of Agriculture and the state attorney general’s office on Sept. 16, the Associated Press reported.

According to the Sept. 16 lawsuit:

  • The South Carolina agriculture department discovered crops on unlicensed land in July 2019, and Pendarvis said he had filed an amendment application to move locations because of drought conditions.
  • The Consumer Protection Division of the Agriculture Department said via email that Pendarvis’ action was a “willful violation” of state farming regulations.
  • South Carolina Solicitor General Adam Cook called the state’s Hemp Farming Act “ultra murky” when it comes to dealing with unlicensed crops, but the state attorney general asked the SLED to ensure Pendarvis receive due process via “judicial authorization.”
  • Instead, SLED agents sought approval from a local judge to destroy Pendarvis’ crop. The judge denied the approval and offered to hear the matter, but the SLED declined.
  • The attorney general then switched gears to align with the SLED, saying that the hemp-farming-participation agreement gives “valid consent” to destroy unlicensed crops

The attorney general’s office told the AP via email that the lawsuit “lacks merit.” The SLED declined to comment on an ongoing litigation.