Pressure from state law rises against smokable hemp, and there are high chances it could be banned completely from the state of North Carolina, after months of legalization from the federal government.
The recent version of the North Carolina Farm Act, Senate Bill 315, passed the state House on 21 August by a 63-48 vote ratio, with most Democrats including Rep. Ray Russell opposing the bill, and is currently waiting to be heard in the state Senate. A previous version of this bill which entailed the ban of smokable hemp passed by the Senate of North Carolina in June by a 31-14 vote along party lines, with Senator Denna Ballard voting for the bill.
The SB315 includes a specific prohibition on smokable hemp in the state, which is in contradiction with the United States Farm Bill that was passed by the Congress back in December 2018. According to the federal regulation, hemp-derived cannabinoids was legalized and removed from the list of Controlled Substances.
However, the ban imposed in North Carolina included smokable hemp, but not hemp based products like Cannabidiol or CBD, according to the bill. CBD oils have garnered immense popularity over the years, but the most significant inclination towards it has to be the year 2019, after it was legalized by the federal government.
Scientifically, hemp is a strain of cannabis sativa, one of the plants which falls under the category of cannabis genus. Cannabis has been associated with a stigma for years; THC or tetrahydro cannabinoid, the psychoactive component causes users to experience a feeling of euphoria or “high” when they smoke pot or weed, and because of this compound, many have confused CBD with THC and labelled the former as a psychosis drug too!
Though the confusion and stigma still remains loosely attached to CBD when it comes to safety, more people have adopted CBD in their lives to improve their overall health. CBD is an anti-inflammatory and non-psychoactive component which is found in abundance in hemp plant. It is used to treat anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia, and even seizures in epilepsy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has legalized Epidiolex, a CBD drug for treating two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, most commonly found in children. Other than this, the agency prohibits the use of CBD in food and drinks until a regulatory framework is created to ensure public health safety.
Kevin Frye, Avery County Sheriff says that smokable hemp makes current cannabis laws unenforceable, as hemp is hard to distinguish from the illegal marijuana with high levels of THC.
The federal law has allowed a maximum concentration of 0.3% per unit or product in CBD products, above which it becomes illegal to produce, process, sell or use. Sheriff Frye says that hemp often results positive like marijuana and looks exactly like it, even smells like pure cannabis which makes it difficult to identify whether it is the legal hemp or the illegal marijuana.
He further added that legalizing hemp would pave way for illegal marijuana to flood into the consumer space. Lack of proper equipment to accurately identify hemp from marijuana could lead to invalidated searches which could uncover other illegal drugs, weapons and compounds as well.
The ACSO is well aware of the production of legal hemp in the United States and noted that the overall production has picked up a rapid pace after the legalization of hemp in December 2018.
Frye said that enforcement officials understand that farmers are looking for a legitimate way for cashing in crop.
When prompted about his views on the issue, Len Hagaman, Watauga County Sheriff stated that the issue of smokable hemp and the way that enforcement officials treat marijuana laws lies in the hands of the state legislature.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation supported the ban of smokable hemp in a memo back in May. It even supported the prohibition of CBD oils, except for the case of epilepsy treatments, which even the FDA permits.
The FDA had organized a public meeting with stakeholders, business leaders, consumers, scientists, retailers, sellers and many others to discuss about the effects of CBD. Though many research suggest the medical claims made by CBD are true- improves mental health, treats disorders, especially related to stress, anxiety and abnormal sleeping patterns, reduces chronic pain, acute aches, inflammation, swelling, irritation, etc, there’s still along way for CBD when it comes to regulatory framework created by the FDA.
The FDA’s first priority is public safety, and the organization will not compromise on it for any compound, be it be CBD or any other “miracle” drug which is treating people without a proper scientific reason and study behind it.