North Carolina bill OK’d in Senate sets smokable hemp ban

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Hemp (Photo: Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0)

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s annual agriculture measure is nearing final legislative approval after being delayed for months by a debate over the future of smokable hemp.

The Senate voted 40-10 on Monday for a compromise to the 2019 Farm Act. Much of it describes the regulatory framework to expand the industrial and medicinal hemp industry. The House delayed its scheduled Monday vote.

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The measure declares possession of smokable hemp illegal starting next June 1. Smokable hemp lacks the concentration of the compound that gives marijuana its high. Licensed hemp farmers could continue producing it for out-of-state sales.

Law enforcement wants the ban because smokable hemp looks and smells like pot, making it difficult to differentiate. The bill says a ban could be repealed if tests to distinguish them get more reliable.