By Tim Callahan
On September 29th, 2015, North Carolina passed Senate bill 313, allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state, and it was presented to the Governor for signing the following day. As a design firm specializing in the implementation of hemp and natural building materials in our designs, we are very pleased and excited to witness the passage of this legislation. The anticipated signing of this Bill by Governor McCrory provides for the establishment of a commission to oversee the regulation and production of industrial hemp for any potential commercial end-use, provided that it is congruent with the provisions as defined in Section 7606 of the Federal Farm Bill of 2013.
To date, the industrial hemp that we use has been imported from the Netherlands. Asheville, NC is recognized nationally as a leader in the creation of hempcrete buildings, and we believe that the passage of Bill 313 holds promising implications for developing a more diverse and robust local economy. We have been involved in on-going negotiations with individuals and businesses that have been building the groundwork for local production; with the passage of this legislation we look forward to being able to source this material locally in the upcoming years.
Following the federal passage of the farm bill allowing the cultivation of hemp in 2014, a number of states have made significant headway in the re-integration of industrial hemp into their local economies. It remains to be seen what framework North Carolins will establish under which farmers and processors will be allowed to take advantage of the market potential of this crop. The on-going conflation of hemp with its psychoactive cousin marijuana continues to limit the integration of this product as a simple agricultural commodity, and there are many conflicting economic and political factors that come into play in the development of sensible regulatory framework- often in stark contradiction to fact and established science. We hope that reason will prevail in the NC Commission as they work to establish the parameters which will govern the implementation of this crop as a component of the agricultural and industrial economy of the State.