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Hemp vs. Marijuana Legality in North Carolina



As strange as it may sound, hemp is an important part of the American historical story. About 200 years ago, it was one of the most popular crops in the entire nation – and it remained that way for centuries. Although it was subsequently banned during the war on drugs, it was made legal once more in recent years. Henry Ford was one of the many Americans who grew hemp, and there are numerous reports suggesting that his famous Model T was initially constructed from bio-plastic made partially with hemp fibers. In addition, he apparently ran the engine on hemp fuel. Although hemp might have a surprisingly American heritage, the question of legality continues to cause widespread confusion in North Carolina. Is hemp legal? What is the difference between marijuana and hemp?


Is Hemp Legal in North Carolina?


First of all, it is important to understand that there is a clear distinction between hemp and marijuana in North Carolina. The two products come from the same plant, but only one is considered a drug. While marijuana is psychoactive, real hemp does not have any mind-altering effects. Although it is illegal to grow hemp without a license, there is very little government oversight when it comes to selling or possessing the product. In fact, The UNC School of Government states that there is not even an age restriction for those who want to buy it. 


Violent Police Arrest in North Carolina Raises Questions Over Hemp Products


On December 1st, it was reported that a violent arrest in North Carolina had occurred. Initially, police assumed that the defendant was smoking marijuana. However, it later became clear that she was actually smoking a completely legal cannabis product that she had purchased earlier from a smoke shop. Her attorneys are now arguing that the arresting officers should face legal consequences for their actions. 


How Hemp Products Affect the Infamous “Smell Test”


One of the most overlooked aspects of legal hemp products is their implications for the infamous smell test that so many police officers rely upon. In North Carolina, the scent of marijuana is enough to justify a vehicle search. This is not the case in many other states where the smell test has been deemed unconstitutional. The logic behind the smell test is that no other substance could possibly emit this scent, and therefore, there is reason to believe – beyond reasonable doubt – that drugs are within the vehicle. This argument is supported by the use and presence of specially trained dogs. 


However, the rise of legal hemp products throws serious doubt on the validity of this argument. Hemp products smell almost identical to marijuana products, and this clearly establishes that the scent of marijuana might not be such a reliable indicator of wrongdoing after all. How can police justify stopping and searching individuals if the scent is associated with a completely legal product?


Find a Defense Attorney in North Carolina


Whether you have been charged with drug offenses related to marijuana, hemp, or any other controlled substance, a smart first move is to get in touch with a qualified North Carolina defense attorney. Choose Coastal South Law to discuss your legal options in more detail – including proven defense strategies executed by experienced defense attorneys. Reach out today to get started. 


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