A nail biter

The North Carolina hemp industry is experiencing a little drama these days. The two houses of the North Carolina General Assembly can’t agree on hemp, and there’s a deadline approaching. The law that legalized hemp in North Carolina expires this coming Thursday, June 30 — which is also the last day of the short session. If nothing passes by Thursday, it will be next year before they meet again.

Attitudes and products have changed since we opened PhenomWell in 2019. CBD was a bit of a novelty then, whereas now many people rely on hemp products for managing pain, anxiety, and sleep. Many of our customers say their doctors suggested hemp derived products. This legislative stalemate puts stores like ours a bit on edge. Without hemp, we have no store. There are over 1,500 licensed hemp farmers in North Carolina, and over 1,200 licensed hemp processors, making it the 7th largest hemp producing state.

Last week, the NC state Senate unanimously passed a Farm Bill that permanently removed hemp as a controlled substance (matching the federal law). This cleared the way for the industry to continue.

But instead of passing the same bill, this week, the House of Representatives wanted to accommodate a handful of anti-hemp Republicans who don’t want to be associated with pro-hemp policy — so they removed hemp from the bill — and then passed it.

They then took the part they removed, which includes the pro-hemp language, and passed that as a separate bill. While it still passed, it made the anti-hempers happy because they were able to vote for the Farm Bill and against the hemp bill.

So everything, with the exact same language, has passed both chambers — but in different forms.
As of now, the Senate wants to pass a Farm Bill that includes hemp, and the House wants to pass the exact same language, but in two separate bills. Obviously, there are enough votes to pass all of it, either way — if they can agree on one law or two.

In case you weren’t paying attention during social studies class in eighth grade, a bill becomes a law, in North Carolina, when it passes both the Senate and House and gets signed by the Governor.

We see three possible outcomes:
1. The Senate accommodates the anti-hempers in the House and passes the House’s two bills (keeping hemp legal).
2. The House decides not to accommodate the anti-hempers and passes the Senate’s original, single bill (keeping hemp legal).
3. They pass nothing (leaving us in a very gray area). Let’s hope they work out a solution before Thursday!

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