To peek inside Nicole Burnette’s grow room, I had to first find her business’ unmarked brick building in south Charlotte and then put on a Tyvek protective suit.
The east Charlotte native and co-owner of Queen Hemp Company has been growing everything from microgreens to garlic for more than two decades. But the hemp-derived legal weed product known as Delta-8 she’s growing now is more popular than anything else she’s ever grown, and she wants to protect her goods.
Why it matters: The demand for Burnette’s Delta-8 edibles is “a veiled demand for legalization” of marijuana in general, she tells me.
- Recent polling backs that up: 54% of N.C. residents polled by Elon University say they support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
- 73% support the legalization of medical marijuana.
- And, FWIW, 98% of Axios Charlotte readers support legal medical marijuana, according to our unscientific poll in November.
The state of play: Cannabis could be legalized through two possible routes: the state legislature or U.S. Congress.
- In North Carolina, there are two bills on the docket. One aims to legalize marijuana for medical purposes; the other is full legalization. The state could also decide to raise the legal limit of THC allowed in products from 0.3%.
- Federally, legislation to decriminalize marijuana nationally is expected to make its way to Congress soon, Axios’ Alayna Treene reports.
Delta-8, on the other hand, is already legal here.
Because it’s derived from hemp, it’s covered under the state’s Farm Act, which remains in its “pilot” stage through the end of the year.
The high: Delta-8 THC is a close cousin to Delta-9 THC, the psychoactive compound found in typical marijuana. So yes, Delta-8 gets you high, but it’s a milder high, Burnette says. Think of it like the low ABV alcohol of weed.
- The catch: Because Delta-8 products, like Queen Hemp Company’s gummies, contain THC, they’ll likely show up on drug tests despite its legal status. Just an FYI.
Burnette and her business partner Gail Syfert released the gummies three months ago to complement their other hemp products like chocolate, skincare and, most recently, a line of spices.
Demand has been so strong for their hemp products, they’ve outgrown their modest facility in south Charlotte and will soon move into a new 20,000-square-foot space.
Background: Throughout Burnette’s career in growing, her business has evolved along with her passions and current wellness trends.
- She pivoted from hydroponic produce to hemp after the passing of Farm Bill. Her indoor hemp farm was the first licensed facility in Mecklenburg County in 2018.
- Now, she’s prepared to pivot again if marijuana is legalized.
What’s next: “It’s probably going to go medical first, but you don’t ever know. I mean, look at what Virginia is doing,” Burnette says.
Ah yes, our neighbor to the north. Starting July 1, recreational marijuana is legal there, and that fact could have a major effect on what happens here.
- After New Jersey legalized recreational marijuana in November, New York followed a few months later.