Industrial hemp became legal in North Carolina on Oct. 31 as Gov. Pat McCrory failed to either sign or veto Senate Bill 313 after allowing it to sit on his desk for nearly a month. The bill mandates creation of a state Industrial Hemp Commission to oversee research in industrial hemp under terms of the new federal Farm Bill. The ultimate aim is to “provide opportunities to small farmers for an environmentally sustainable and profitable use of crop lands that might otherwise be lost to agricultural production,” according to the text of the new law. A hemp cultivation pilot program is to be established by North Carolina State University.
McCrory issued a statement announcing his intention to allow the Industrial Hemp Bill to become law without his signature, saying: “Despite the bill’s good intentions, there are legitimate concerns I would like to address… Although there is a clear intent to ensure this program supports agriculture and research goals, a strong regulatory framework to safeguard against abuse is critical to its success and the safety of North Carolinians.”
Senate Bill 313 originally pertained to license plates and registers of deeds until a subsequent addition by sponsor Rep. Jeff Collins (R-Nash County). The measure won broad support from the state’s farmers, and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation has announced it will soon begin a feasibility study to look at the possible legalization of cannabis on the reservation for industrial hemp uses, medicine and recreational uses.