NC Bill with Proposed Smokable Hemp Ban Makes It Way through Committee

Robert M. Fishman

Member, Cozen O'Connor

Yesterday a bill containing a proposed ban on smokable hemp passed the NC Senate Agricultural Committee.  The bill still has to pass through three other committees before it reaches the floor for a vote.  It has also been amended to delay the proposed ban on smokable hemp until 12/1/2020.

The bill has seen opposition from NC hemp farmers who believe it could detrimentally impact their ability to participate in the fast-growing hemp industry. For some farmers, hemp is a viable new cash crop alternative in an agricultural industry where it has become increasingly difficult to make a living.  Because smokable hemp products have been profitable there is a concern the bill poses a business risk to farmers growing smokable hemp flowers.

Hemp and its derivatives like CBD oil became federally legal to cultivate, manufacture, and sell when the President signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill this past December.  The State Bureau of Investigation, however, has advocated for the proposed ban on smokable hemp.  Because hemp contains .3% or of less of THC it doesn’t have a psychoactive effect like marijuana and doesn’t give users a “high.”  Nevertheless, law enforcement has sought to limit legal hemp cultivation arguing hemp can be easily confused with marijuana.

This confusion was demonstrated recently when police charged a North Carolina woman for smoking legal hemp flowers despite her showing officers the store packaging for the flowers.  A North Carolina high school student was also arrested after a resource officer discovered a marijuana-like residue in her backpack even though the student told the officer that it was a legal CBD product.

A full copy of the proposed bill may be found here: https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2019/S315