This week, Carolina Journal’s Kari Travis reported on the latest version of North Carolina Farm Act of 2019. Travis writes:

A new version of Senate Bill 315, North Carolina Farm Act of 2019, passed the North Carolina House Rules Committee Tuesday, Aug. 20. The latest version of the omnibus bill would outlaw smokable hemp May 1, 2020.

This is a notable pivot from the original intentions of the bill, Travis explains:

[Originally,] S.B. 315 was supposed to help clarify the law for hemp buyers and growers in North Carolina, but arguments over smokable hemp added to the haze.

State legislators for months have quarreled about expanding North Carolina’s hemp pilot program into a statewide farming industry. The Senate in June passed S.B. 315 under the guidance of Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson. The bill has since flip-flopped through House committees, shepherded by Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin. 

Dixon opposes the legalization of smokable hemp citing the inability of law enforcement to discern between hemp and marijuana. Travis explains his efforts to prevent its legalization:

Last month, Dixon threw a curve at Jackson, attempting to ban smokable hemp via an amendment to the N.C. Controlled Substances Act. That legislation, Senate Bill 352, still sits in the House Rules Committee, its future uncertain now that lawmakers have chosen to address the hemp ban within the farm bill. 

According to Travis’s reporting, no matter which way legislation goes, it will likely be challenged in court:

Even if the legislature manages to pass hemp regulations as part of S.B. 315, “This is a legal question that I think will be played out in the courtroom,” Dixon said. 

North Carolina isn’t the only state facing legal challenges over hemp. In July, a group of Indiana CBD retailers sued the state over its smokable hemp ban. 

North Carolina growers are ready to follow suit, Blake Butler, executive director of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Associationtold Carolina Journal last month.

Read the full story here. Follow the debate over hemp laws in North Carolina here.