Industrial Hemp

Yes, North Carolina hemp is a thing.

We represent a diverse range of clients in all aspects of the emerging industrial hemp and cannabidiol ("CBD") industry in North Carolina. 

Our industrial hemp and CBD clients include direct participants in the industry, such as hemp farmers and growers, industrial hemp and CBD processors, and product manufacturers and retailers. We also assist those collaterally involved with those market participants, such as consultants, marketing agencies, and banks and financial institutions. 

What is Industrial Hemp? 


Industrial hemp is a version of the cannabis sativa plant selectively bred to have only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (a.k.a. THC), which distinguishes it from marijuana. Industrial hemp was partially legalized by Congress and the North Carolina General Assembly in 2014-17.  A diverse and enthusiastic hemp and CBD industry, complete with hemp farmers and growers, fiber, CBD and derivative processors, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers has since taken root in North Carolina. 

Industrial Hemp Market in North Carolina


The North Carolina market for industrial hemp and CBD is driven by the many commercial uses of it.  Hemp stalks are processed into paper, durable textiles, and renewable insulation; hemp seeds are used for cooking applications, fuel, and animal feed; and CBD, which has been applied to countless medicinal and personal care products (such as oil-based supplements, hemp lotion, natural hemp cosmetics, and hemp body wash) is extracted from the ­­­flowers and other plant trim.

Is Industrial Hemp Legal in North Carolina?


The industrial hemp and CBD industry has tremendous national momentum. The economic possibilities for industrial hemp market participants, hemp investors, and North Carolina as a whole are very exciting.  However, many aspects of the legality of hemp, CBD, and other cannabinoids, remain uncertain at both the state and federal levels. 

In addition, the federal regulatory climate for food, care, and drug products that include CBD or other hemp derivatives is complex, ever-changing, and requires a proactive and thoughtful approach. As industrial hemp attorneys practicing in North Carolina, we are studying these issues with an eye toward guiding our clients through this indeterminate landscape.

Our industrial hemp law attorneys partner with our government relations team to monitor the fluid state of the law, such as recent efforts at the federal level to entirely legalize industrial hemp and possible evolution of state and local regulation. We leverage that collaboration to provide comprehensive legal services to those industrial hemp and CBD clients seeking to evaluate and plan for multiple legislative scenarios. 

How We Practice Industrial Hemp Law


We assist participants in the North Carolina industrial hemp and CBD market in understanding and complying with the complex rules and regulations enforced by the following state and federal agencies:

We also have the knowledge and ability to assist clients with the following:

  • Hemp grower licenses, hemp grower agreements, and farm leases;
  • Grower operations, including nursery, row crop, and greenhouse farming operations, and multi-crop integration;
  • Hemp and CBD processing, manufacturing and retail operations;
  • Local, state, interstate, and international sales and employment;
  • Purchase contracts, sale agreements, distribution agreements, employment agreements, and other business agreements;
  • Entity formation, operational agreements, starting a business, and mergers and acquisitions;
  • Capital fundraising including hemp stocks, cryptocurrency, crowdfunding, and Regulation D;
  • Equipment purchasing and warranty, alternating proprietorships, and ground and equipment leases;
  • State and federal banking regulation regarding industrial hemp operations, and lender and deposit holder concerns;
  • Local land use and zoning issues;
  • Protecting hemp brands, formulas, recipes, trade secrets, and other intellectual property; and,
  • Interfacing with legislators and regarding the regulation of the North Carolina hemp and CBD industry through our lobbying and government relations team.

Ward and Smith is a proud member of the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association.  

North Carolina industrial hemp market participants, whether new entrants or established operations, would be wise to confer with informed attorneys to navigate this uncertain legal landscape in order to reduce and plan for risk while maximizing opportunity.

We are your established legal network with offices in Asheville, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, and Wilmington, NC.

Industrial Hemp Team