Starting May 1, 2020, people living in North Carolina may no longer be able to access smokable hemp legally.
After hours of debate, the North Carolina Farm Act was passed, which made smoking hemp illegal. The revisions change the definition of hemp to exclude smokable hemp. In North Carolina, Hemp is currently legal to grow with a license, but this bill proposes to change all of that if passes in the Senate as well.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation made a memo supporting the ban of smoking hemp.
Senate Bill 315 passed with a 63-48 vote on August 21. Most Democrats voted against the bill being passed. Currently, it’s waiting to be heard in State Senate.
A previous version including the smokable hemp ban passed 31-14 in June.
Other inclusions on the bill are allowing shooting ranges to be considered agritourism, but only in counties with less than 110,000 people.
The terms of the bill banning smokable hemp are in direct contradiction with the United States Farm Bill that was passed in December of 2018.
Unlike marijuana, hemp does not get users high. It does not contain the active ingredient, THC. If a cannabis plant is .3 THC, then it considered marijuana. Anything lower than that is considered hemp and is legal in the US. The flowers of hemp plants contain CBD, and many users say it is the fastest way to ingest CBD.
It is a small part of the hemp and CBD industry, but it was one that was growing quite quickly. Lawmakers are currently debating whether or not the passing of this bill makes hemp a controlled substance.
The reasoning behind this move was smokable hemp smells similar to cannabis when burned, and law enforcement officers were unable to tell the difference.
Anyone found using smokable hemp is now considered giving law enforcement probable cause to search them. Hemp growers in the area are concerned and wondering how it will affect business, and their ability to get crop insurance.
The amendment passed deemed it legal for law enforcement to arrest and search individuals who had smokable hemp as if it were marijuana, even if later it was tested and it was shown to be hemp. Evidence found during that search could be viable for other charges.
Rep. Keith Kidwell stated that “People have the right to privacy and security,” and that the amendment was a violation of constitutional rights.
Other policymakers pointed out that smokable hemp was federally legal, and it was useless to try to ban something that was legal on the federal level.
Rep. Kelly Alexander stated, “Hemp, smokable hemp, is federally legal. There is no way we will be able to sustain something that is federally legal.”
Senate Bill 352 is banning smokable hemp but allows for CBD in other forms such as topicals or oils.
The community is speaking out. Many are saying that this could affect their livelihoods and that smokable hemp helps people to smoke fewer cigarettes or less pot.