The North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday approved a measure to permanently exempt hemp from the state’s controlled substances law, the Associated Press reports. The program was first approved as a pilot program in 2015 and was set to expire today.
In a statement, state Sen. Brent Jackson (R) applauded the bill’s passage, noting that hemp industry operators had “been left in the lurch” for more than a month after the House removed hemp protection language from a previous version of the bill passed by the Senate. Jackson spearheaded the effort to keep the hemp language in the Farm Act. There are more than 1,500 hemp farmers in North Carolina.
“It doesn’t matter the size of the farm or the crops that are grown, I will support farmers and work to ensure they can thrive. I’m thankful that my Senate colleagues stand with farmers, and I urge Gov. [Roy] Cooper to sign this legislation immediately.” — Jackson in a statement
Were the language not included in the Farm Act, hemp farming in the state would have been effectively outlawed along with the sale of any hemp products. The state’s hemp program is currently operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The 2018 federal Farm Bill legalized hemp nationally but left it up to the states to develop their program rules and regulations within the confines of the federal statute. Some states operate their own programs, while others are overseen by the USDA.
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North Carolina Lawmakers Approve Measure to Make Hemp Program Permanent