As state lawmakers consider new regulations for CBD and hemp products, House Majority Leader John Bell has become the president of a startup company manufacturing those products.
Bell said his new role leading Nashville-based Asterra Labs is part of his work at private equity firm Rise Capital, which owns the hemp company. Previous CEO Kevin Sills, who was appointed by House Speaker Tim Moore to the UNC-Wilmington Board of Trustees in 2022, is no longer with the company.
“It’s a very interesting, fascinating world,” Bell told WUNC. “What we do is manufacturing, and then we have a retail side. I’ve been in sales forever in some way, shape or form. And so this is the opportunity that the board (of Rise Capital) gave me and said, ‘Hey, look, go see what you can do.’ And so my goal is to grow the company and get it to profitability, hire a bunch of people, and be a successful company.”
In his new role, Bell said he sees the need for the legislature to pass further regulations for CBD and hemp products.
Back in September, the House unanimously passed a bill to regulate the sale of “hemp-derived consumable products,” which would require licenses to sell the products and ban sales to people under age 18. The products would need to contain less than 0.3% THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The Senate did not take action on the bill before the legislature adjourned for the year.
Since his company could be impacted by new regulations, Bell…