The North Carolina House Agriculture Committee voted Friday afternoon to pass an amendment to the 2019 Farm Act which could deal a major blow to the budding hemp industry in the state.
Besides federal regulations laid out in the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration has no additional regulations on smokable hemp, leaving states to figure out how to govern it themselves.
The amendment moves up a ban on smokable hemp, or the cured and dried hemp flower, to Dec. 1, 2019.
The SBI and other law enforcement agencies have been pushing for the ban, since it is extremely difficult to quickly determine the difference between the hemp flower, which is not psychoactive, and marijuana.
Brian Bullman, owner and founder of Carolina Hemp Company in Asheville, said tools to test the buds are already available.
“This is a conversation that is not new in the country, it’s new in North Carolina,” Bullman said.
Bullman said the dried bud is fetching between $500-$1,000 a pound — much higher than hemp used for extracting CBD and other components, which typically sells for $40-$60 a pound.
The ban would mean a large loss in revenue, not just for the farmers who grow the high quality hemp.
“The vast majority of which are growing for CBD,” Bullman said. “Even out of those, a very large percentage growing for smokable flower, so it will have a significant economic impact. Right now, we’ve heard the state legislators talking about this smokable flower market is potentially 20% of the revenue in the market in North Carolina. We feel, as people on the front lines, it’s likely more like 30% or maybe even upwards of that a little bit. So significant, significant impacts.”
The 2019 Farm Act now has to pass several additional committees before it can be called to the NC House for a vote. It would still have to pass a commission as well, since the bill has been altered from the version passed in the N.C. Senate.