The North Carolina House voted to ban smokable hemp on Monday, October 28, 2019.
For hemp farmers, hemp retailers, and individuals who smoke hemp to reduce chronic pain and anxiety, this is bad news.
Cannabidiol (CBD), hemp’s active ingredient, will continue to be available in oils and in edible forms like gummies.
However, some individuals argue that CBD in the aforementioned forms is not the same.
“I purchased gummies and I went back and I said, ‘I need something stronger.’ And they pointed to Old Crow Hemp Company, their hemp. And so I went and I got one gram and instantaneously between three and five seconds it worked. The pain, PTSD, the anxiety, all went from raging up here all the way to down here and it last for about two hours,” Amanda Furstonberg revealed to ABC11.
“Smokable flower seems to be the best product available for instantaneous relief. And so those customers I feel sorry for who are not going to be able to continue to access smokable flower for their needs,” Eric Stahl of Hemp Farmacy in Raleigh contended.
Arguing that smokable hemp flowers smell and burn like marijuana, law enforcement officials lobbied state lawmakers to pass this ban.
Police claim that it complicates their job.
Amanda Furstonberg’s case highlights this concern.
One day she was smoking hemp at her home in Johnston County.
Police arrived at her door claiming that they smelled pot smoke coming from an open window.
She claimed that the police officers wouldn’t listen when she attempted to explain it was hemp, not marijuana.
Despite Furstonberg’s pleading, she was charged with marijuana possession.
“We went to court and the DA dismissed it from the drug test results,” she said.
Police claim that because hemp and pot mimic each other, it makes it difficult to differentiate from what’s legal from what’s not.
Stahl understands the police argument.
“If we pull someone over and they have marijuana but they say it’s hemp flower, that takes away our probable cause as police officers. We totally understand that. We think there is some common sense middle ground somewhere to ensure the people who need access to hemp flower can get access to hemp flower while also making sure we’re not using it as a scapegoat for other products,” he said.
However, Stahl is frustrated that legislators quickly decided to outlaw hemp instead of trying to find a more proactive alternative.
The ban was passed in a broader bill, the Farm Act, on Monday and will go into effect on June 2020.
Stahl has high hopes that this grace period will allow for some sort of compromise.
“We’re asking for common sense legislation that looks at this and understands that just like many other substances it looks like something and smells like something but genetically it’s completely different.”
Hopefully, North Carolina legislators come to their sense and re-consider this ban.
Countless states are already legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana, thus demonstrating that North Carolina political officials are leaving their state behind.
Legalizing hemp and similar products would allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes to life and property.
Indeed, legalization is no cure all. Drugs come with certain side effects and other problems. However, civil society, not the state, has proven that it is equipped to handle these issues.