Medical cannabis legalization stalled again this year in North Carolina, but legislation made it across the finish line to allow hemp farming to continue legally following the state’s five-year pilot program.
The legislation defines hemp as containing 0.3% THC or less, and permanently exempts hemp and hemp-derived products from North Carolina’s controlled substances act, the news outlet reported.
The bill aligns the state’s hemp policy with the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the federal controlled substances act.
The Farm Act cleared the North Carolina House in an 85-26 vote, and passed the Senate in a 41-2 vote, according to Port City Daily.
North Carolina initially legalized hemp in 2017 as part of a temporary pilot program that was set to expired at the end of June 2022, the news outlet reported. Roughly 1,500 farmers have been cultivating hemp since the start of the pilot program, which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and North Carolina’s Industrial Hemp Bill, which passed in 2015.
“Agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry and giving North Carolina farmers certainty that they can continue to participate in this growing market is the right thing to do for rural communities and our economy,” Cooper said in a public statement upon signing the Farm Act into law.
Legislation to legalize medical cannabis did not fare as well in the North Carolina General Assembly this year.
The Compassionate Care Act, which would have legalized the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis-infused products for patients with qualifying conditions and a physician’s recommendation, stalled in the House at the end of this year’s legislative session, Port City Daily reported.
Initially introduced in April 2021, the Compassionate Care Act cleared several Senate committees last year before lawmakers ultimately postponed a full floor vote until 2022.
The Senate gave final approval on the legislation June 6, sending it to the House for consideration.
House Republicans then held a closed-door meeting June 22 and internally voted against advancing the bill in that chamber, although the bill did have a chance of being revived while the legislative session was still active.
The General Assembly adjourned July 1 without any additional action on the legislation.