The U.S. Botanical Safety Laboratory’s new gas chromatography equipment and a specially developed testing methodology are poised to bring stability and convenience to Western North Carolina’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry.
The new program will work with local farmers and landowners in an effort to develop hemp as viable crop for Western North Carolina.
In late May, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation proposed banning all smokable hemp flower, in addition to more stringent regulation of hemp processing and a host of other precautions. Those changes are now under consideration in the General Assembly, where they could be enacted as part of the N.C. Farm Act of 2019.
Last year, a handful of area farmers planted the first hemp crops to be grown legally in Western North Carolina in over 70 years. That first crop was plagued by delays introduced by regulators at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who held up shipments of seeds and seedlings, leading to a late start. Growers expect a smoother process for the 2018 growing season.
Local farmers are still holding out hope that 2017 will be the year industrial hemp grows in WNC fields for the first time in decades. But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration isn’t making it easy for growers to source seed or seedlings in time for planting, which may mean another year of waiting for eager prospective hemp growers.
North Carolina is just one signature away from taking advantage of a 2014 Farm Bill provision that allows states to enact their own hemp-growing pilot programs.
Black Mountain’s Lookout Brewing has collaborated with Hi-Wire Brewing and Urban Orchard Cider to create a small-batch, short-release hemp-seed oil brew in support of a documentary made by local filmmakers about industrialized hemp. The beer will be available at a special screening of the movie, Bringing It Home, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17.