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No, North Carolina doesn't grow 25% of the nation's hemp
If Your Time is short
- A hemp policy advocate says her team miscalculated the number of acres used for hemp in North Carolina and emailed that inaccurate number to Mayfield.
- North Carolina planted 4% of the nation’s industrial hemp in 2021.
- North Carolina harvested 5.5% of the nation’s industrial hemp in 2021.
Advocates for medical marijuana secured a small victory recently when North Carolina state senators passed a bill to legalize it, sending legislation to the state House.
While the bill had broad support in the Senate, an Asheville-area senator called on lawmakers to amend it so that more local farmers can grow and sell the product. Sen. Julie Mayfield, D-Buncombe, said proposed regulations would exclude a large swath of local farmers because the bill requires licensees to produce the drug, process it and sell it at its own dispensaries.
"Indeed, a quarter of the entire acreage in the country that is under hemp production is here in North Carolina," Mayfield said in a speech on the senate floor. "A quarter of the entire production in the country. These farmers and small business owners literally plowed the ground in North Carolina to make it fertile for the legalization of marijuana when we got to that point."
Mayfield’s claim suggesting that North Carolina is home to 25% of the nation’s hemp-producing acreage was included in stories by WRAL, the News & Observer, the North Carolina Insider newsletter and others.
But it’s not true.
Shortly after emailing Mayfield, PolitiFact NC was contacted by a hemp policy advocate who took responsibility for the inaccurate statistic.
Nicolette Baglio, who owns a hemp business in western North Carolina, said she and other hemp advocates have been tracking North Carolina’s proposal. Baglio said her group didn’t learn about the Senate’s scheduled vote until just hours beforehand. In a rush to compile information about North Carolina’s hemp industry, Baglio said her team miscalculated the state’s hemp production and then included it in an email sent to every senator.
Speaking to PolitiFact, Mayfield argued that, despite the error, her broader point is valid because, although her percentage was off, North Carolina remains a top producer of hemp.
"This bill, while taking a long overdue step, shuts out N.C. businesses and farmers and will make already large, wealthy, out of state companies larger and wealthier at the expense of small hemp farmers and businesses," Mayfield said in an email. "We should work harder to figure out a way to let our homegrown businesses benefit from this new market and keep our dollars in-state rather than let our dollars flow to out-of-state cannabis corporations."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture in February released a report on hemp production across the country during 2021. The department tracked hemp that was planted and harvested in each state.
North Carolina planted 4% of the nation’s industrial hemp last year – accounting for 2,150 of the U.S.’s total 54,152 acres of hemp planted. Seven other states planted more: Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas, California, Minnesota and Utah.
North Carolina was an even larger producer of harvested hemp.
North Carolina harvested 5.5% of the nation’s industrial hemp — 1,850 of the nation’s 33,480 acres. North Carolina and Oregon are tied for sixth in harvesting industrial hemp, behind Montana, Colorado, Minnesota, California, and Utah.
Baglio said her team initially thought that North Carolina accounted for 25% of U.S. hemp production because they compared a statistic from Hemp Industry Daily — which said the state has 14,016 acres available for hemp growth — with the USDA report that 54,152 acres of hemp was planted last year.
Mayfield said she wrote Baglio’s talking point in her notes, which she can be seen reading from in video footage of the senate debate. Baglio apologized for providing Mayfield with the wrong stat, saying the rest of the group’s information is accurate and that Mayfield is a trustworthy lawmaker.
"She has truly been one of the only legislators that I feel like has listened to her constituents and has taken up some of the main issues at hand and that [the bill] is essentially cutting out the entire industry that paved the way" for medical marijuana, Baglio said.
Mayfield said "a quarter of the entire acreage in the country that is under hemp production is here in North Carolina."
That’s not true. North Carolina has planted about 4% of the nation’s hemp and harvested about 5.5% of it, according to a USDA report released in February.
We rate this claim False.
Video of the North Carolina State Senate debate on June 2, 2022.
Email exchange with North Carolina State Sen. Julie Mayfield, D-Buncombe County.
Email exchange and telephone interview with Nicolette Baglio, founder of Citizen Bloom Botanics.
Story by WRAL, "After emotional debate, medical marijuana approved by NC Senate," posted June 2, 2022.
Story by the News & Observer, "Medical marijuana legalization passes NC Senate with bipartisan support," posted June 2, 2022.
Press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Value of hemp production totaled $824 million in 2021," published Feb. 17, 2022.
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Help Report 2021.
Story by Hemp Industry Daily, "With North Carolina exit, will more states give up hemp oversight?" posted Aug. 10, 2021.
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No, North Carolina doesn't grow 25% of the nation's hemp
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