HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A 17-year-old has been arrested in connection to the theft of hemp from a field in the Conway area, Horry County police spokesperson Mikayla Moskov said.
The hemp farmer told officers that for the past few weeks, people have been trespassing on his property and taking hemp plants out of the field, according to an HCPD report.
Police have not released the 17-year-old’s name or charges. According to Moskov, police believe several juveniles were involved in the theft and more arrests are expected.
“We do have some good video, there’s lots of good security around that farm. They’ve taken great precautions in protecting their product, so we’re going to be investigating as far as more suspects involved in this case," said Lt. Mark Bonner with the HCPD Investigations Division.
But investigators said the thieves may not be stealing what they think.
“Getting a hemp plant and trying to smoke that as you would a marijuana plant, you’re not going to get any effect from that. So we think there’s misinformation out there as far as people can go steal this plant and use this for recreational purposes. You’re not going to get anything from this plant in that fashion," said Bonner.
Unlike marijuana, hemp is legal and contains very low levels of THC which means it won’t get you high. Police said since the state’s industrial hemp program began in 2018 they’ve seen a rise in cases of stolen hemp plants.
“Once again, trying to get ahead of the game and let everybody know, you’re not stealing marijuana, you’re stealing hemp,” said Bonner.
Police said the suspects in this case, if convicted, could face up to 10 years in prison for stealing property worth more than $10,000 dollars.