Hemp sections gutted from North Carolina farm bill to ensure House passage

Lawmakers in North Carolina stripped all proposed hemp regulation from the state’s farm bill in order to get it passed, surrendering their attempt to put more permanent guidelines in place following a months-long spat between farmers and law enforcement over smokeable hemp.

State lawmakers in the House voted 86-34 in favor of the stripped-down bill, local broadcaster WRAL reported on Wednesday. The bill was expected to come before the North Carolina Senate on Thursday, where it is expected to pass.

According to WRAL, the farm bill shrank by half after the section that laid out new state regulations for the hemp industry was cut.

Farmers were in favor of leaving smokeable hemp legal in North Carolina, while law enforcement said officers would be unable to distinguish between hemp and marijuana and would lose probable cause in cases of suspected marijuana use.

North Carolina is one of 20 states that chose to follow the 2014 pilot project rules for this year’s hemp growing season rather than adhere to federal guidelines on the crop.

State regulators previously said the legislative holdup on a hemp program in North Carolina made it hard to implement the USDA interim final rule in 2020.