• Sean Mills

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

We’ve all been there.  You’ve been saving for a new couch for 3 months and you just got it delivered.  The leather is nice, the stuffing super fluffy, and the recliner bit is just perfect at the end of the day.  You’re loving the new couch.  Then a few nights later, you come home and your wife demands to know where the rip came from.  What!?  You check the side and sure enough, somebody nicked it.  You shake your head and sigh – this is why we can’t have nice things.

North Carolina doesn’t want you to have nice things, either, as Senate Bill 315 makes quite clear. Specifically, NC doesn’t want you to have CBD.  SB 315, also known as the North Carolina Farm Act of 2019, bans CBD in its raw plant form.  Anyone found manufacturing, retailing, or merely possessing CBD plant will be fined $2,500.  Why?  Well, that’s where things get more interesting.

The Brave New World of Hemp

With the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp containing less than 0.3% THC was removed from scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act.  It opened up banking options, agricultural grants, and other benefits for farmers to take advantage of the crop.  It allowed American consumers, farmers, retailers and manufacturers to produce and refine the CBD products for the best possible products. 

Sounds great, so where’s the problem?

To be quite plain, some police groups feel like it looks ‘wrong’ and requires them to be more diligent before arresting someone on marijuana charges.  The State Bureau of Investigation and North Carolina Association Chiefs of Police supported the bill following several instances of arrests for CBD in the state since 2018.  Arrests include an incident in eastern NC last month that saw a woman arrested for marijuana possession when police saw her smoking what she claims was hemp.  Her case is pending.

Sneaky Prohibition

I always find it strange when politicians write a bill that claims to do one thing while obviously doing the opposite of that thing.  SB 315 does exactly that, though, explicitly promising the purposes are to promote research and expansion of the hemp industry to the “maximum extent permitted by law.”  I suppose that if they restrict that “maximum extent” it’s technically true, but drips with doublespeak.

Someone is going to have to enlighten me as to how banning a product promotes expansion and “moves the State and its citizens to the forefront of the hemp industry” as the bill also says.  Instead, this looks like is a way to create a prohibition on anything an officer might perceive as an illegal drug.

Some of you are reading this and I can hear you thinking, no big deal – just don’t buy raw plant, right?  Easier said than done for many.  Edible products like gummies require digestion, so may not be ideal for those seeking something that’s fast-acting.  Others desire a stronger effect, which raw hemp can provide when smoked or in a vaporizer.  Taking away options from consumers and threatening them with fines is certainly not the way to grow and promote the hemp industry in NC that so many rely on.

Kill Bill, Vol. 315

Normally I’m not a fan of “slippery slope” arguments because they lead to implausible comparisons.  However, if we begin to outlaw anything resembling an illegal drug, we’re looking over a steep incline.  What’s next?  Are cartridges and edibles on the chopping block soon because THC vape pens and gummies exist?  Should we look out for a caffeine powder ban?  It’s far more dangerous than CBD in high quantities and could be confused for cocaine before testing.  These are absolutely questions that should be answered before this bill passes.

SB 315 has already passed in the NC Senate where it was proposed, and now is moving through the House.  There’s not much time left.  Live in Mecklenburg County?  Want to do your part to keep CBD products available?  Call and email your representatives.  They are your voice in the House, and the only way to kill the bill.

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