The North Carolina House Agriculture Committee approved a bill that supports a ban on smokable hemp.
The House committee on Friday moved the legislation forward, including a smokable hemp ban that would take effect Dec.1.
The Senate’s measure would delay the ban until December 2020 and call for the hemp industry and law enforcement to develop an agreement before then.
North Carolina’s Bureau of Investigation is pushing for the ban, saying it is difficult for law enforcement to discern smokable hemp from marijuana.
State officials are looking for a field test to help distinguish hemp from marijuana and plan to test one next week, but currently there is no validated field test, Raleigh TV station WRAL reported.
Smokable hemp is currently legal in North Carolina.
Industry members testified at the House Agriculture Committee hearing that smokable flower is one of the more profitable products of the hemp industry, selling for up to $800 per pound.
The next step falls to the House Judiciary Committee, but the North Carolina House and Senate will have to agree on language for the bill to pass.
North Carolina’s hemp industry is booming, thanks to flexible state laws about production and climate suited to the plant. Farmers say hemp is an easy pivot from tobacco, North Carolina’s traditional cash crop.
North Carolina currently has:
- 11,572 outdoor hemp acres.
- 4.5 million square feet of indoor hemp cultivation.
- 933 licensed hemp farmers.