Dorchester man charged with unlawfully growing hemp


State law enforcement officials arrested a Dorchester County man on Thursday for violating South Carolina's Hemp Farming Program.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the state Department of Agriculture distributed news releases Friday on the incident, which is the first arrest of a hemp farmer since the program's implementation in 2018.

John Trenton Pendarvis, 38, has been charged with unlawfully cultivating hemp on property near Harleyville in Dorchester County. SLED officials booked Pendarvis at the Dorchester County Detention Center, and the case will be prosecuted by the First Circuit Solicitor's Office, according to SLED.

The arrest is a result of an investigation requested by the Department of Agriculture.

According to the department's release, permitted hemp farmers in the state are required by law to report all acreage on which they intend to grow hemp.

The department said it "is required to report to SLED and the S.C. Attorney General any violations of the hemp program that we believe are willful, which is what we did in this case."

The agency said the incident doesn't dampen its enthusiasm about the Hemp Farming Program.

"We have more than 100 permitted farmers this year, many of them getting ready to harvest their 2019 crops," Department of Agriculture officials said, "and we're committed to supporting this growing industry."