News: Quick Takes

Indiana injunction could affect hemp legalization in North Carolina

You can’t criminalize smokable hemp, a federal judge has told Indiana lawmakers. The decision could affect North Carolina. 

Judge Sarah Evans Barker, from Indiana’s Southern District, wrote Sept. 13 in a preliminary injunction that a Hoosier law preventing the manufacture, finance, delivery, and possession of smokable hemp is overridden by the federal farm act of 2018. That bill, signed into law by President Trump in December, removed hemp from the federal list of controlled substances. 

Indiana’s law is similar to a provision in N.C. Senate Bill 315, “The North Carolina Farm Act of 2019,” which, in August, was revised by the House to ban smokable hemp. The decision scorched Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, who sponsored the original bill. Jackson supports hemp legalization in all forms. 

S.B. 315 initially passed the Senate but was changed in the House. It now awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee. Senators will learn the bill’s fate by the week of Sept. 30, Christopher Stock, a spokesman for Jackson, told Carolina Journal.  

The House wants to outlaw smokable hemp flowers by May 1, 2020. Last month, Jackson said he would block Senate concurrence with that version of the bill. He recently released multiple statements in support of the hemp industry, encouraging lawmakers to reject the ban. 

“Although this [Indiana] injunction does not mark the end or final decision of the lawsuit, it is our belief that it has answered a lot of outstanding questions regarding the intent of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill,” Jackson said in a Sept. 26 statement. 

Hemp, the non-psychoactive cousin of the marijuana plant, is low in the THC component that gets people high. The federal government’s reclassification of hemp “evinces a clear congressional objective to legalize all forms of low-THC hemp, including ‘smokable hemp,’” the Indiana court said.