North Carolina lawmakers settle on 2020 for ban on smokable hemp

North Carolina officials have agreed to ban smokable hemp production starting next summer.

House and Senate negotiators finished work late Monday on a bill that includes the ban.

The measure now awaits a final procedural vote before heading to the desk of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has not said whether he supports or opposes the ban.

Smokable hemp has proved a popular consumer good in the tobacco-growing state.

But North Carolina law enforcement has complained that smokable hemp flower is too difficult to distinguish from illegal marijuana, prompting lawmakers to ban its production.

Under the proposed law, smokable hemp is defined as “harvested raw or dried hemp plant material, including 19 hemp buds or hemp flowers, hemp cigars and hemp cigarettes.”

The bill goes on to allow the production of hemp products such as CBD but adds, “‘Hemp product’ does not include smokable hemp.”

As part of the proposal, North Carolina’s top law-enforcement agency and agriculture regulators are being called upon to “study whether the prohibition on the sale of smokable hemp should be repealed,” but the bill sets no timetable for the study.

The measure would also require annual inspection of hemp producers, who must provide a “random sample of hemp producers to verify that hemp is not produced in violation” of the law.