By Jean Lotus
New hemp legislation in southern states shows mixed messages for the hemp industry with laws in North Carolina moving the industry ahead while Virginia appears to be slipping behind.
First the good news: North Carolina’s state senate moved at the end of May to approve the annual Farm Act, which included removing hemp from the state’s controlled substances list. Hemp is defined by the 2018 Farm Bill as cannabis with less than .3% THC content by dry weight.
The senate also voted to match the federal definition of hemp to include “all products made from hemp” and to exclude THC rules from hemp-derived products, giving legitimacy to hemp-derived Delta 8 products.
North Carolina’s hemp industry was anxious when the state’s agriculture department walked away from administering the state’s pilot program, scheduled to expire July 1 of this year, and said all growers must register with the US Department of Agriculture.
New legislation will create a “friendlier environment for hemp production” in North Carolina, according to the U.S. Hemp Round Table. “The bills have momentum and appear to lack opposition,” the organization said in a statement.
Meanwhile in Virginia, new legislation passed by the Commonwealth’s lawmakers and awaiting the governor’s signature puts more restrictions on hemp-derived products, including new rules buried in the state’s budget bill that could limit CBD use to those over age 21.
The Virginia Hemp Coalition called the new legislation “sneaky, convoluted and secretive.”
“An over 21 restriction on all full spectrum hemp food, beverages and dietary supplements sends a false and destructive message that these non intoxicating hemp products should somehow be restricted, and that they are somehow to be treated with the same regulations as tobacco, alcohol and intoxicating cannabis products,” VHC president Jason Amatucci told Let’s Talk Hemp in an email.
Virginia’s hemp industry is feeling the whiplash after a change in attitude to cannabis legalization since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin ousted Democrat Terry McAuliffe last November. Recreational cannabis was legalized in Virginia under the former Democrat regime, but hemp advocates say Youngkin and GOP Senator Emmett Hanger have backtracked and federally legal hemp is now in the crosshairs.
“Future investments in the state for the hemp industry will dry up when people find out about the roadblocks Virginia is putting up to the hemp industry and hemp consumers,” Amatucci said. “This is not the way to create a good business climate and create jobs for Virginia,” he added.
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Jean Lotus is a Colorado-based award-winning journalist and hempreneur who writes about the American West and sustainable food and technologies.