Jun 30, 2022 - News

Close call for hemp: NC lawmakers vote to legalize at the last minute

Illustration of a hemp leaf hanging off a rope in a tug of war.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Hemp and CBD are still legal in North Carolina.

After a tense standoff between North Carolina's Republican House and Senate chambers, lawmakers reached a last-minute agreement on legislation to remove hemp from the state's list of illegal drugs.

  • The bill will now go to the governor's desk, where he is expected to sign it into law — just in time to avoid a Friday deadline that would have outlawed the product and put 1,500 of the farms in limbo.

Why it matters: The situation shows how, even when legislation has bipartisan support, minor disagreements can derail policy changes that legislators agree would benefit the state.

  • Before a compromise was reached, Democratic Rep. Kelly Alexander told fellow legislators Tuesday: "Without any debate, we just destroyed the hemp industry."

Between the lines: Two Republican lawmakers, Rep. Jimmy Dixon and Sen. Brent Jackson, each sponsored their own versions of the bill.

  • The pair disagree over whether to include permanent hemp legalization with legislation addressing various state agriculture needs or pass it on its own.
  • "It's unfortunate that for so long these farmers and small business owners have been left in the lurch," Jackson said in a statement yesterday.
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