RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WNCN) — It appears North Carolina’s hemp industry will avoid a shutdown.
The General Assembly gave its final approval Wednesday to legislation that would make its products permanently exempt from the state’s controlled substances law.
The Senate voted for a House measure that keeps lawful the production and sale of industrial hemp and products derived from hemp like CBD.
It’s a big relief for stores like The Holistic Company of Smithfield, which sells products made from hemp.
“Sheer excitement,” said store owner Tyler Herring. “It was a big relief, knowing that we can continue to help, and grow the industry, and see how far we can take it.”
The law allows the sale of hemp and CBD products that have no more than .3% THC, the active ingredient that makes someone high.
The state legalized hemp in 2015 through a pilot program that expires Thursday. The last minute vote came after weeks of political wrangling.
“It’s been really hectic,” Herring said.
Herring said customers who use their products for things like eczema and anxiety have been stocking up out of fear lawmakers wouldn’t reach an agreement.
“It would’ve put a lot of people in a really tough situation that have already tried pharmaceuticals and we were their last resort, they came in here looking at their last option,” Herring said.
The state estimates there are more than 1,500 industrial hemp producers in North Carolina.
The bill now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk for his expected signature.
North Carolina’s industrial hemp program began as a pilot several years ago and is now operated through a federal production program.
Without the legislation, the products would become illegal later this week.