North Carolina state agents are growing cannabis. The program was launched pursuant to a provision in the last farm bill that allowed states to establish programs to support research and development for industrial hemp. North Carolina, interested in maintaining a diversified agricultural portfolio, followed up with the creation of the Industrial Hemp Commission, charged with determining the optimal conditions for growing the crop. Pilot studies are now underway at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, under the supervision of Kaleb Rathbone. Since hemp has been illegal in the state for 50 years, Rathbone expects it will take more than the customary five to 15 years to make sure growing conditions are understood well enough to hand the hemp baton off to farmers. The station is part of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, whose mission is to experiment with crops on a small scale in order to spare farmers the losses of experimenting wholesale. One acre was planted June 19 with 15 varieties of the plant. Now scientists will examine the effects of variables like light, water, and soil pH on the crop when used for fiber, food, and homeopathic remedies. Activities are tightly regulated and confined strictly to registered acreage.