North Carolina Senate passes bill expanding hemp industry

North Carolina Senate passes bill expanding hemp industry

In this Thursday, June 13, 2019, photo, a team of Oregon State University employees spreads hemp seeds in a field using a tractor at a research station in Aurora, Ore., that's part of the university's newly announced Global Hemp Innovation Center. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Legislation designed to further develop North Carolina's fast-growing hemp industry, increase agritourism and make it easier for industrial-scale hog farms to overhaul their open-air waste storage systems has cleared the state Senate.

The legislature's annual "Farm Act" passed on Monday after floor debate by a 31-14 vote. It now goes to the House.

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The bill's proposed ban on smokable hemp in December 2020 has received a lot of attention during committee debates.

Smokable hemp doesn't produce a high, but it looks and smells a lot like marijuana, which law enforcement says is a problem. Many hemp farmers in the state have previously spoken up against the ban and say smokable hemp can sell for as much as $1,000 per pound.