North Carolina's Proposed Hemp Law Classifies Smokable Hemp as Marijuana

The North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission is holding an emergency call today, July 23, 2019 to discuss the state’s legislation that will implement the 2018 Farm Bill. Under the bill, the state classifies smokable hemp as marijuana, and requires persons manufacturing or selling cannabinoid related compounds to hold a valid state license. The legislation authorizes the Department of Agriculture to develop a licensing regime and best practices for manufacturing, testing and labeling CBD products.

The bill prohibits licensed cultivators or handlers from processing or selling ground raw hemp plant material, including hemp buds and hemp flowers, for products intended for smoking including hemp cigars, and hemp cigarettes. The state classified smokable hemp as marijuana due to the possibility that THC may be ingested during the inhalation process. The legislation allows the classification to be repealed when the US Drug Enforcement Agency approves a test that can immediately detect whether the hemp contains THC.

North Carolina currently does not have a medical cannabis program, and state law’s offer limited protection for the possession of CBD for certain medical conditions. The legislature introduced a medical cannabis bill this year but it has yet to move forward.

The state’s hemp bill will expand access to CBD and other hemp products as hemp extracts will be removed from the state’s definition of marijuana, and the bill exempts THC found in hemp extracts and hemp products from being Schedule VI controlled substances. The exclusion of hemp extracts from the definition of smokable hemp may be due to the fact that hemp extracts can be tested for the presence of THC prior to being sold. The bill will however make it a misdemeanor for any person to sell hemp, hemp products, or hemp extracts to a person under 18 years of age.