Industrial Hemp Grows in North Carolina as Regulations Get Worked Out

CHARLOTTE, NC – “We harvest on the 27th,” said Nicole Burnette, while walking through her hydroponic hemp farm in South Charlotte, it’s the only fully indoor farm in the area.

“This is a variety called baox. It’s a high variety in CBD-A,” said Burnette.

She and her business partner started Queen Hemp Company a year ago. They grow hemp plants indoors and have a contractor extract oils, including CBD. They then sell the oils and infused creams.

“You should know your farmer,” said Burnette, “we are the farmers and we have traceability.”

The hemp plant is almost identical to the marijuana plant which is illegal to grow because it contains THC, a psychoactive ingredient. Hemp has only trace amounts of THC.

“That has to be within state guidelines .3 or less THC. And we get tested through the Department of Agriculture,” said Burnette.

Hemp can be legally grown in every state in the US. But the regulations surrounding the crop are still being developed.

“So much of this is a gray area,” said Blake Butler, the head of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association.

“Every state has to submit a plan to the USDA. So now the USDA has oversight of all the industrial hemp programs state by state,” said Butler.

Right now, most of the testing and quality control standards are up to individual companies best practices. But the governments are catching up.

“The state is getting stricter, and rightfully so about testing and compliance. And we want to see the industry move in that direction,” said Butler.

As the budding hemp industry takes root in North Carolina; Burnette says she hopes to be an example locally.

“We have an ethical and moral obligation to produce the finest product that we can,” said Burnette.