RALEIGH, N.C. — Two major bills with the capacity to impact the hemp and medical marijuana industry in the state are currently making their way through the North Carolina legislature.
If approved by the House, the 2022 Farm Bill would bring the state's hemp laws in line with federal regulations and make it permanently legal.
What You Need To Know
Hemp's current legal status will expire on June 30
The state Senate has unanimously approved the Farm Bill, which would make hemp permanently legal
The Compassionate Care Act looks to make medical marijuana legal for certain disorders
Hemp stores across North Carolina are waiting in anticipation for the House to vote on the Farm Bill after it unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday. Eric Stahl, the owner of Modern Apotheca, has been closely following the updates that will determine the future of the cannabis industry in North Carolina.
“Anything we derive from a hemp plant is federally legal,” Stahl said. “If you see that term, 'hemp derived,' that means it's federally legal, and that's a product that you can have in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee. You can put it in your suitcase, you can fly with it.”
His store has been selling hemp products with a THC level lower than the required 0.3% since 2018. He hopes to continue that, not only for his own livelihood, but for his customers who depend on hemp as an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals.
“People have found relief without addiction, and people have found relief without overdose, and that's the most important part,” Stahl said. “We have been stigmatized since the 1930s and the federal government has been really, really anti-marijuana.”
If the House does not approve the Farm Bill, hemp's legal status in North Carolina will expire on June 30 as the hemp pilot program comes to an end, and hemp will return to being classified as marijuana, which is still illegal in the state.
But the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act is looking to change that as well and would legalize medical marijuana for those with five specific diseases and disorders. The Compassionate Care Act will need to be approved by both chambers before heading to the governor for final approval.
“If we pass that bill, it would be the most conservative, restrictive marijuana bill in the nation,” Stahl said. “The next closest has about 15-20 diseases and disorders so at five diseases and disorders we're very limited.”
Stahl shared that as the Compassionate Care Act is currently written, most small businesses will find it impossible to be a medical marijuana dispensary simply due to the sheer cost of the application. He expects to see hemp continue being an over-the-counter product while marijuana would become prescription only.
“For us as a store like Modern Apotheca we will continue to promote cannabis as a healthier alternative to alcohol and pharmaceuticals,” Stahl said. “We are hopeful that medical marijuana comes to North Carolina. What we want to make sure is that medical marijuana does not replace hemp in North Carolina.”