There are more than 630 farmers growing hemp in the state
Hemp has only been legal in North Carolina for a couple of years, but already the plant is presenting an issue in the criminal justice system that the legislature is still trying to iron out.
Hemp is from the cannabis plant, and if hemp and marijuana are laid out side by side it’s almost impossible tell the difference between the two. They look the same and smell the same, but the hemp doesn’t have the THC concentration that produces the high like marijuana. That means law enforcement officers also have a hard time distinguishing between the two plants — as do police dogs.
“I foresee problems in the future. I’m surprised we haven’t had any problems yet, but the major problem I see occurring is with our dogs that are trained on marijuana and they will indicate on marijuana and hemp,” said Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland. “In the future when we look for K-9s, we’ll have to make sure they’re not trained to detect marijuana. That’s not what we prefer to do but that’s how it is with today’s times.”
Not being able to distinguish marijuana from hemp makes it more difficult for law enforcement and prosecutors to build a case. Holland said the N.C. State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) lab won’t distinguish between the two plants when it involves minor charges — it has to rise to the level of felony charges.
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