Surprise Statewide Hemp and CBD Inspections in North Carolina

The NC Department of Agriculture conducted surprise investigations across the state this week, prompting much speculation about its intentions.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, May 8 and 9, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Food and Drug Division (NCDA) conducted a statewide inspection of hemp processors and retail outlets selling hemp flower and CBD products. The inspection was unannounced and caused significant speculation across the state.

According to the NCDA, the purpose of the inspection is to determine if a business is “offering for sale any of the following products: food products labeled to contain CBD, CBD products labeled as a dietary supplement, CBD products that bear medical or drug claims on the packaging or accompanying material, or dried or fresh floral material represented to be a “smokeable” product.” Here is a redacted copy of the NCDA documentation:

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Although no enforcement action was taken and no citations were issued by the NCDA, no explanations or information regarding the purpose of the inspection was provided.

The NC Industrial Hemp Association issued the following response:

May 8, 2019
Dear NCIHA Members,
Yesterday, a number of North Carolina hemp retailers were inspected by a representative of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Understandably, these inspections led to many questions and raised some concerns about their purpose. While we do not yet have all of the answers, we have been in touch with the Department and have been informed by a high-level official that the initial purpose was to survey the retail hemp marketplace and to obtain a general inventory of products now being offered for sale.  We were also told that no business has been placed under any threat or demand as a result of the inspections. It is expected that there will be some additional written communication from the Department within two weeks, but we do not know what their message to retailers will be. We can assure members that the Association will seek and share any further information regarding these inspections in the days ahead.
Thank you for your support.Blake Butler
Executive Director
Whether this is an information gathering exercise in advance of the FDA’s Public Hearing on May 31, a precursor to an enforcement action, a wrap up of the research component of the state’s industrial hemp pilot program, or something else remains to be seen. In the meantime, it serves as an ideal opportunity for North Carolinians in the hemp industry to make their voices heard and their thoughts known. You can click here to find out your legislator and tell her/him what you think.
May 8, 2019
Rod Kight is an attorney who represents lawful cannabis businesses. He speaks at cannabis conferences across the country, drafts and presents cannabis legislation to foreign governments, is regularly quoted on cannabis matters in the media, and maintains the Kight on Cannabis legal blog, where he discusses legal issues affecting the cannabis industry. You can contact him here.

1 comment on “Surprise Statewide Hemp and CBD Inspections in North CarolinaAdd yours →

  1. The purpose of the inspections appears to align with the FDA regulatory guidance you’ve provided the industry for years, Rod. Thank you for understanding and communicating the landscape so accurately to us.

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