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North Carolina Senate passes bill that would avert hemp industry shutdown

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Farming legislation that would firmly establish the legality of industrial hemp in North Carolina has passed the state’s Senate.

The Senate yesterday approved its annual Farm Act, including updated language which would remove hemp from the state’s controlled substances list, a change that is necessary because hemp has been legal in the state only under a pilot hemp program started in 2017 that ends July 1.

The measure, which now goes to the state’s House of Representatives, would also set the official level for THC that defines hemp from marijuana at 0.3%.

USDA supervision

Both provisions would bring the state into alignment with federal rules after the legalization of hemp as a result of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. If the bill fails, North Carolina’s industrial hemp program would have to shut down at the end of June.

The North Carolina government chose not to organize a state program for hemp production as the pilot program came to an end, leaving growers to operate under the USDA beginning this year.

The bill’s chances in the House of Representatives are unclear. North Carolina law agencies have pushed back against hemp legalization, suggesting it would cause confusion in the enforcement of marijuana laws.

Advocates in North Carolina see hemp as a rotation crop, and as a replacement for declining tobacco fields.

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