Local hemp farmer sees big SC business potential in legal marijuana

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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — Big changes could be coming to a South Carolina industry that’s still in its infancy.

Hemp farmers are excited about what the possibility of making marijuana legal could mean for both businesses and consumers.

The hemp industry got its start in South Carolina back in 2017. Only a few years off the ground, it now could have the potential to expand after former congressman Joe Cunningham announced his plans to legalize to use of marijuana if elected governor in 2022.

Cody Callarman, owner and founder of Zitro Farms, is a veteran who has seen the affects hemp can have on physical and mental trauma.

"I’ve lost three friends in combat; and as of a month ago, eight to suicide, PTSD, everything that comes with it,” Callarman said.

As a former Marine, Callarman is no stranger to loss. It’s what he’s gained through his business that helps him carry on the legacy of a friend. It’s also what got him into growing hemp flowers two years ago.

“I’ve had, like most veterans, we have our run-ins with alcohol,” Callarman said. “Four to five years ago, I tried cannabis for the first time, and that was really my eye-opening of, ‘Wow, how is this plant illegal and alcohol isn’t?’”

After living in California where recreational marijuana is legal, Callarman recognized an opportunity to open shop in his home state.

“We’re in such an infant stage that I figured, wow, I can really go over there knowing what I know from California and how that’s built and really try to build the industry here,” he said.

“To be competitive on the national stage, we definitely need to have cannabis legal in our state before it’s federal,” Callarman said.

According to Callarman, that needs to happen sooner, rather than later.

“If we wait until it’s federally legal and then we open the floodgates, were going to have a lot of outside investment come in, a lot of big money from other states,” he said.

A potential boom for a business' bottom line, but Callarman said it must be regulated properly.

“I think in order to make this fair and to make it, especially the customer, comfortable with the product, I think we need to have some sort of system in place to know where it's coming from,” he said.

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