NC Senate approves bill preventing hemp laws from phasing out

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — A state Senate committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would prevent the state’s hemp laws from expiring late next month, as some business owners have feared they will have to close their doors if state leaders don’t act.

The Farm Act of 2022 would permanently remove hemp from the state’s Controlled Substances Act, aligning the state with the federal government and preventing hemp from being treated the same as marijuana under state law.

“This is absolutely amazing news for us. That doesn’t mean that we have to revisit this topic in a few years’ time. Hemp is here in North Carolina to stay,” said Eric Stahl, owner of Modern Apothecary in Raleigh. “We want rules and regulations so it’s a fair marketplace to participate in and so our customers get the quality products they deserve.”

Hemp-related products sold in North Carolina must contain less than 0.3 percent THC, which is the ingredient that gets you high.

Hemp products have been legally available in North Carolina since 2015, when the state passed the Hemp Pilot Program Act, which provides an exception.

While legalizing hemp has been controversial in the past, the move received bipartisan support and little discussion in Tuesday’s committee meeting. Most people were concerned about a provision that had nothing to do with repairing farm equipment.

“Law enforcement has seen that (hemp) is not a problem. You know, we’re even discussing medical marijuana now. So I think the train is moving,” said Senator Brent Jackson (R-Sampson).

Aside from the hemp-related bill, state senators have spent more than a year debating the prospect of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Committees debated the bill, but it didn’t make it to the Senate vote. The bill would legalize marijuana for certain medical conditions, such as PTSD and cancer. Opponents of the measure fear it would be a step toward full legalization of recreational marijuana.

“As for medical marijuana, if it can help people with terminal illness, as defined, and with terminal pain, I don’t see why we wouldn’t do it,” Sen. Jackson said.

In a recent CBS 17 poll with Emerson College and the Hill, 68 percent of voters said they support medical legalization. Support dropped to 46 percent when asked if they supported it for recreational use.

Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Durham) said the bill’s sponsors planned to meet Tuesday, but it remained unclear whether the bill would receive a vote during the short session, which is expected to end July 1.

“We’re still working on it. There are many questions. This is a big step for North Carolina. I think it’s an important and necessary step, but a big step,” Senator Woodard said.

Last week, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said the issue was unlikely to be resolved during the current session.

“You get into a problem like that and you’re here in a short session, that would be a very significant boost to deal with it,” he said.

https://www.cbs17.com/news/political-news/nc-senate-approves-bill-preventing-hemp-laws-from-expiring/ NC Senate approves bill preventing hemp laws from phasing out

DUSTIN JONES

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