NC General Assembly votes to keep hemp legal; businesses were concerned about last-minute vote

Uncertainty lingered this week as businesses in the hemp/CBD industry worried their business would be in jeopardy.
Hemp buds at Crowntown Cannabis in Charlotte, NC
Hemp buds at Crowntown Cannabis in Charlotte, NC(Lowell Rose)
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 9:11 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The North Carolina General Assembly voted to keep hemp legal in the state with roughly 30 hours remaining until the seven-year pilot program was set to expire on June 30.

The passaged of Senate Bill 455 conform the state’s hemp laws with federal law which excludes hemp from the list of controlled substances.

Uncertainty has lingered this week, especially Wednesday as businesses in the hemp/CBD industry worried their business would be in jeopardy.

CBD retailers voiced their concerns on Wednesday, hours before the state senate voted 41-2 to pass the measure.

As Michael Sims, co-owner of Crowntown Cannabis and The Plug Distribution, described it, “the clock [was] ticking.”

“The pilot program expires, so come July 1, we’re 100 percent exposed to whatever kind of imposition of law enforcement they want to expose on us because there’s no definitive line between what we know as marijuana and hemp,” Sims said.

Other store owners around the city were also feeling the anxiety.

“As small business owners, we’re definitely concerned about it,” Joe Diaz, the manager of Community CBD, said. “Take a second, think about the people you’re impacting.”

In North Carolina, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% of THC to be legal.

A lapse in the pilot program could put hundreds of businesses and jobs in jeopardy.

“These are people’s real lives, real careers on the line, real jobs on the line, most of us have given our entire lives to this,” Sims said.

“It makes no sense, all of these people have were given expectation that something was going to happen, that this was going to be a legal product, this would be a legal industry, this would be okay to invest in, okay for me as a consumer to use,” Democratic Representative Kelly Alexander of North Carolina’s state House District 107 said.

Alexander said the bill was held up because of an internal fighting in the General Assembly. In the end, the representative said businesses and consumers would lose if nothing was passed.

“We do get a lot of people that are cancer patients and their families that come through here, so the people that are going to benefit from this are definitely going to be hurt besides use as well,” Diaz said.

“We’re not going anywhere, we’re going to fight this to the very end, even if they try to make doing what we’re doing illegal,” Sims said. “They’re literally going to have to drag us out in handcuffs, so we’re not going anywhere.”

Senate Bill 455 now waits to be signed by Governor Roy Cooper.

Related: Research shows hemp compounds prevent COVID-19 virus from entering human cells, study says

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