How and Why

North Carolina’s legislature set up an industrial hemp pilot program in 2016 and temporary rules to govern the program were adopted in 2017.

Under the rules for the industrial hemp program, a farmer wishing to grow industrial hemp must apply to the Industrial Hemp Commission and receive a license.

This rule is still in place after the 2018 Farm Bill passage until the USDA develops its hemp program and the state gets approval of their program compliant to the USDA program.

As part of the application, the applicant must list the GPS coordinates of where his or her industrial hemp will be grown and must show some income from farming on their tax returns.

By law, industrial hemp must have less than 0.3% THC.

THC is the chemical that produces the euphoric effect or “high” of other cannabis plants.

For centuries, industrial hemp (plant species Cannabis sativa) has been a source of fiber and oilseed used worldwide to produce a variety of industrial and consumer products.

Currently, more than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, which is sold on the world market. In the United States, however, production is strictly controlled under existing laws.

The 113th Congress made significant changes to U.S. policies regarding industrial hemp during the omnibus farm bill debate.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79) provided that certain research institutions and state departments of agriculture may grow industrial hemp, as part of an agricultural pilot program, if allowed under state laws where the institution or state department of agriculture is located.

(From “Hemp as an agricultural commodity,” Congressional Research Service)

The 115th Congress made additional significant changes to U.S. policies regarding industrial hemp production through the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun the process to gather information for rulemaking.

Until further notice, North Carolina will continue to operate under the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program authorized in 2014.

Hemp production has been legalized in North Carolina, 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.

The law was modified in 2016 in House Bill 992. The Industrial Hemp Commission adopted temporary rules for review in February 2017; these were approved by the Rules Review Commission of the Office of Administrative Hearings.

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