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Hemp farmer accused of illegal growing had his crop destroyed in SC. Now he’s suing

marijuana plant in a field at sunset

Two years ago, John Pendarvis was accused of illegally growing hemp on 10 acres in South Carolina. A large chunk of his crop was cut down as a result, and Pendarvis — a licensed hemp grower in the state — was placed under arrest.Now he’s suing. Pendarvis filed a lawsuit last month in Dorchester County against the S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture, the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division saying both his arrest and the destruction of his crops were illegal.

The complaint includes claims of unlawful arrest, assault and battery, abuse of process, defamation and negligence.

Lawyers for Pendarvis as well as representatives with the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office and SLED did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Agriculture declined to comment on pending litigation but said it is “proud of the South Carolina Hemp Farming Program and our farmers’ successes over the past several years.”

The agriculture department launched its pilot program allowing a select number of farmers to grow industrial hemp in 2018. Hemp is an agricultural product that comes from the cannabis plant and is often used to create CBD oil. State officials doubled the number of permits in 2019 to allow for growing demand. By the following year, there were at least 265 licensed hemp farmers in the state.

Pendarvis received his hemp growing license in May 2019, according to court filings.

Under the program, farmers are required to detail the acreage and GPS coordinates of where they intend to grow hemp prior to planting it. Farmers can submit an acreage amendment form if anything changes.

Attorneys for Pendarvis said he submitted an amendment to his application in August 2019 after exchanging emails with the S.C. Department of Agriculture detailing issues with his growing operation on the fields he initially submitted to the state for approval.

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