Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in North Carolina
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.
USDA, DEA, FDA Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp (2016)
USDA report: Industrial Hemp in the United States: Status and Market Potential (2000)
Congressional Research Service: Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity (2015)
N.C. SB 313: Industrial Hemp
N.C. HB 992: Industrial Hemp