NC farmers, police spar over smokable hemp ban

A field of legal cannabis plants selected for their low content of THC grows on August 25, 2014 near Meaux, France. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) 

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Burgeoning sales of a new crop that could help North Carolina farmers still transitioning away from once-profitable tobacco are facing complaints from law enforcement officials that smokable hemp makes it harder to enforce marijuana laws.

Farmers faced off Wednesday with police and prosecutors over legislation that would ban smokable hemp after next year's elections. A state House committee approved the measure, which delays the proposed ban for a year in hopes that tests will be developed that better distinguish legal hemp from illegal marijuana.

RELATED: North Carolina lawmakers push to ban smokable hemp

Fred Baggett of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police says the plants are too similar for street officers to tell the difference.

The compound CBD in hemp is believed to help with pain, anxiety and inflammation, though there's limited scientific research supporting those claims.