NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — A hemp farm is causing quite the stink in a North Kingstown neighborhood.
The farm – owned by former state Sen. Dawson Hodgson – is upsetting residents because of its strong odor.
Sodco is the largest hemp farm in Rhode Island, having recently grown more than 60 acres’ worth.
As of Wednesday, only 15 acres of hemp were yet to be harvested.
The farm was allowed to open following the deregulation of hemp last year. The hemp – which is not marijuana – is dried out and sold so it can be turned into CBD oil.
At a North Kingstown Town Council meeting earlier this month, residents who live just south of the farm complained about the smell of the hemp.
“By August, I was accusing my kids of smoking pot in their bedrooms,” one resident said.
“We have been overcome by the fumes,” another resident added.
Ken Ayars with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) said Sodco is operating under normal agricultural practices and the smell is protected by the Right to Farm Act.
“There are over a thousand farms in Rhode Island that produce a variety of smells – dairy farms, pig farms,” Ayars explained.
Despite this, Ayars said the DEM is looking into a solution.
“It’s on our radar screen; it’s important to us,” Ayars said. “We’ll do our best to see where we can go on the issue.”
Ayars said they’re discussing several strategies with Sodco that could diminish the smell in future seasons.
Hodgson tells Eyewitness News he respects the strong opinions of his neighbors, but also said his business is following every regulation and law.
A petition is circulating on social media asking state leaders to regulate where hemp can be grown in Rhode Island.
Sodco has previously announced plans to sell its crop to American Standard Hemp, a Warwick-based company whose top officials have high-level State House ties. Target 12 reported Wednesday night that American Standard Hemp’s license has been suspended by the state.
Hodgson said he has not yet transacted any business with American Standard Hemp.