The Hemp industry is ever growing across the US. It’s been a hard fight to combat the previously deemed addictive drug or gateway drug back into main stream for use as medicine. Here’s a bit of marijuana and hemp history. Cannabis based medicines date back over 5000 years in history records for what is now Romania.
In the US, cannabis was a patented medicine during the 19th and early 20th century, described in the United Stated Pharmacopoeia for the first time in 1850. Federal restriction occurred in 1937 with the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. This timing directly coincides with the big boom of the tobacco industry. In 1970, cannabis was added to the Controlled Substance Act. However, in 1996 California became the first state to permit legal access for medical use which was later enforced by the Compassionate Use Act of 2017. Since then the industry as slowly moved into mainstream again and has only gained momentum with the 2018 Farm Bill. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 removed cannabis with less than 0.3% THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) from the controlled substance list which makes this plant an agricultural commodity.
So what does this all mean for North Carolina? Hemp production has been legalized across the state, but only as part of the state’s pilot program as allowed under federal law. The N.C. General Assembly passed Senate Bill 313 in 2015, allowing the Industrial Hemp Commission to develop the rules and licensing structure necessary to stay within federal laws. Today North Carolina has 11,572 outdoor hemp acres, 4.5 Million square feet of indoor hemp cultivation and 933 licensed hemp farmers. This has not only allowed for rotation crops of existing farms, returning nutrients back into the soil for produce, it has also created hundreds of jobs across the state. Since 2017, North Carolina has seen hemp growers increase tenfold since our local climate provides a suitable growing environment for this versatile crop. Farmers say hemp is an easy pivot from tobacco, formerly North Carolina’s cash crop. North Carolina is now one of the top 5 producers of industrial hemp in the US.
Today in North Carolina cannabis for medical and recreational use is still illegal. As for hemp and CBD, these forms of the plant are legal with some restrictions. According to the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy using any CBD based product during a service is illegal and grounds for a therapist license to be revoked. As of February 2019, it is illegal to “add” CBD products to drinks or baked goods on site; meaning factory added CBD found in CBD infused coffees and teas or edibles prepared in an approved facility are fine, but stores may not produce their own or add to another prepared product on site for sale. Current legislation is also considering make smokable CBD or industrial hemp illegal due to law enforcement not being able to distinguish hemp products from its illegal cannabis cousin, THC.
In the US over 32 states have legalized cannabis on some level with 12 more in the works. This movement is growing and it’s changing the way we look at the hemp plant both agriculturally and medicinally. It’s also changing financial outcomes for states that are moving forward with the controlling of how cannabis is managed. For states that have not legalized cannabis in some capacity, their residents who need this medicine are seeking states that have passed legalization laws, moving those tax dollars out of their origin state. Please note even if you buy legal cannabis in another state it is still illegal to cross state lines into North Carolina with cannabis. In short, the laws that govern cannabis change everyday, but rest assured this movement will continue to grow in the right direction.