By: NC Senator Brent Jackson
Because of the nature of this year’s Farm Act, I think it is important to add some context concerning the history of hemp cultivation in NC. In 2015, the General Assembly created the hemp pilot program which allowed for farmers to grow hemp throughout the state. Since then, the sale of hemp products has expanded dramatically to include numerous products, including hemp flower.
Since the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill legalized hemp production, cultivation licenses have increased by 364% nationwide. North Carolina has the second-fastest rate of 548%, which means more revenue and more jobs in rural North Carolina. Additionally, 70% of North Carolina voters feel they should have the right to purchase CBD products derived from hemp while only 17% think law enforcement has the right to seize these hemp-based products.
That is why I have been such a strong supporter of the Senate version of the Farm Act. Since its passage, the House and many law enforcement organizations have attempted to alter its language. These changes would hamstring a growing industry for rural North Carolina. They would also criminalize buying and selling hemp products that are legal now. I believe that the S.B. 315, as created by the Senate, protects and promotes our Ag industry and does not attempt to handcuff our farmers both by government regulation and criminal liability.
A thriving agricultural sector and effective law enforcement should work hand in hand. I hope our lawmakers realize this, as we cannot afford to tie our feet together at the starting line. We must work to ensure we have the best chance to lead on hemp.