HILLSBOROUGH — Years of research and a medical issue that hit close to home are what inspired Mary Lopez Carter to open up a shop in Hillsborough specializing in Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD.
CBD is a compound that comes from the hemp plant in the cannabis family along with marijuana. However, unlike marijuana, CBD doesn’t have a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component that will make a person high.
The Carolina Hemp Hut offers a wide range of options from edibles in gummy form or coffees infused with the oil, to gel caps to vaping and dermal patch products which can be bought in person at their store or on their website, CarolinaHempHut.com.
“We have a very robust line of products. Everything is made in the United States. Everything has their certificate of analysis.” Lopez Carter said.
CBD oil and CBD products have become a multibillion-dollar industry in the last few years, but the venture into CBD oil began as a personal one for Mary Lopez Carter and her husband David Carter.
“It all started when actually a long time ago back in in 2010 when Dave had a brain tumor for the second time,” said Mary Lopez Carter. “I started doing some research into cannabis and discovered medical marijuana’s effects on cancer and that it shrinks tumors.”
Lopez-Carter said that her research led her to products she and her husband Dave first tried that were pricey but says that the results were so amazing she decided to dig around some more. Eventually, she found other products that were cheaper and still high quality.
The couple opened the Carolina Hemp Hut in 2018 after a smaller kiosk-style venture in Durham took off. Prior to the kiosk, Lopez Carter had run an online store for CBD products called Hemp Oil Rockstar.
According to Lopez Carter, her customers reported that CBD products were helping them with a long list of issues including stress, ADHD, and insomnia, but also pain relief from migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and neuropathy pain.
“I thought to myself this is going to be big,” Lopez Carter said. “People are getting off their prescription medications and using something natural that is better for their bodies.
The Carolina Hemp Hut has become a reality due in part to legislation at both that state and federal levels.
Since 2015, the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission has run a pilot program to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes. With the removal of hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act in 2018 as part of the federal Farm Bill of 2018, the production of hemp meeting the same standard for THC according to state or USDA guidelines was authorized.
During the current legislative session, hemp has been addressed again as part of Senate Bill 315, known as the North Carolina Farm Act of 2019.
The major provision of the original bill exempted hemp, hemp products, hemp extracts, and smokable hemp from the definition of “marijuana” in the State Controlled Substances Act and the Schedule VI controlled substances in the State Controlled Substances Act.
Law enforcement officials in the state have pushed back on the bill and the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) issued a memo that in part said this bill will make the enforcement of marijuana laws impossible and it jeopardizes probable cause in drug seizure situations.
The SBI memo says “There is no easy way for law enforcement to distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana. There is currently no field test which distinguishes the difference.”
The most recent version of the bill has removed smokable hemp from the “hemp product” list and includes a civil penalty of $2,500 for anyone who “knowingly or intentionally manufactures, delivers, sells, or possesses smokable hemp.”
In addition, licensure would be blocked for a period of ten years for anyone convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance under state or federal law.
The North Carolina Farm Act of 2019 is still making its way through the House and has been sent to the Finance committee for consideration.