North Carolina’s Hemp Pilot Program is Ending Quickly

Related Practices and Jurisdictions

For some time now, North Carolina hemp growers and breeders have questioned the fate of our hemp growing pilot program, approved and passed under the Agricultural Act of 2014 (“Farm Bill 2014”), and what the ultimate end of that program will be efforts would affect their cultivation. We now have answers.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (“Department”) and the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission (“Commission”) have announced that North Carolina will shortly end its hemp pilot program.

The Department has officially notified the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) of this intention.

Starting January 1, 2022, all hemp production within North Carolina’s boundaries must comply with the USDA Final rule for setting up a home hemp production program (“USDA Rule”). This means that anyone who grows, grows, or harvests hemp in North Carolina on or after January 1, 2022 must be in possession of a USDA-issued hemp license in order to continue to operate lawfully. Breeder licenses issued by North Carolina will no longer be valid once this program postponement takes effect. Growers and farmers can apply for a government-issued license with the USDA effective immediately and, upon receipt of that license, begin operations in accordance with USDA rules. For more information on the licensing process, requirements, and qualifications, please visit the USDA’s hemp production website.

Does this all sound unnecessarily confusing? It may be. So a word of caution: Any farmer or breeder who intends to grow hemp on or after January 1, 2022, and any farmer or breeder who already has plants in the ground at this point, must give due consideration to these aspects and ensure that they receive a USDA in good time. Receives breeder license. Failure to be and remain properly licensed to produce hemp at all times can result in potentially significant violations, fines and fees.

We recommend anyone considering growing hemp – or any other commercial activity related to hemp – seeking legal advice before investing large amounts of time and money.

© 2021 Ward and Smith, PA. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 218