Cabarrus County does not allow the cultivation of marijuana following North Carolina’s ban on its medical and recreational use. However, as of March 2023, progress is on the way as a legislative committee approved the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, also known as Senate Bill 3, last February 2023. If passed into law, Senate Bill 3 will legalize the medical use of marijuana. This move will greatly benefit qualifying patients and doctors residing in Cabarrus County to have easier access to medical marijuana and better treat their patient’s conditions.
The Medical Cannabis Production Commission, which will be established under the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), will be in charge of granting medical cannabis supplier licenses. Under Senate Bill 3, licensed suppliers are authorized to cultivate and supply marijuana. Suppliers are also defined in the bill as entities who own and operate at least one medical cannabis center and a production facility.
To be granted a medical cannabis supplier license, applicants must have been a North Carolina resident for at least two years. An initial fee of $50,000 plus $5,000 for every production facility or medical cannabis center under the license will be collected for first-time applicants. The license will be valid for 12 months, and renewal will cost $10,000 plus $5,000 for every new production facility or medical cannabis center and $1,000 for each previously existing facility or center.
Licensed suppliers must have the technical and technological ability to grow, produce, and distribute medical marijuana in compliance with the commission’s requirements for production consistency and safe handling. Additionally, they must possess competencies in inventory, documentation, quality control and assurance, and security systems. As cultivators, suppliers must have the agricultural ability to grow marijuana in controlled environments. The cultivation of medical marijuana may begin within 120 days upon license approval.
Cannabis manufacturing is still illegal in Cabarrus County following state laws, although this may be allowed once Senate Bill 3 is approved. Under this bill, the commission is tasked to establish a medical cannabis supply system responsible for producing marijuana and marijuana-infused products in licensed production facilities and its distribution through medical cannabis centers.
Rules and regulations related to physical plant requirements, odor control, security and surveillance systems, sanitation conditions, inventory, documentation, employee training, quality control, use of pesticides and solvents, proper storage, and transport of marijuana products must be followed by production facilities.
The retail sale of marijuana is still not legal in Cabarrus County and the rest of North Carolina as of March 2023.
In the case that Senate Bill 3 is passed into law, medical cannabis centers will be permitted to operate with a supplier’s approved license. These centers must be located at least 1,000 feet from a church, a childcare facility, a public or private school, or a community college. Qualified patients and their designated caregivers may be able to purchase medical marijuana, marijuana-infused products, and paraphernalia from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. All products sold must not be visible to the public eye as seen from the outdoor premises of the center.
Only an adequate supply may be dispensed to qualified patients or their designated caregivers. As described in the bill, this amount should be determined by the qualified patient’s physician and should last for 30 days. Before dispensing, the medical cannabis center employee should ask for the buyer’s registry identification card and verify their identity and order through the verification system, which the DHSS will develop.
No, marijuana delivery is illegal as of March 2023. However, the possible passage of Senate Bill 3 will legalize this service which may be offered by medical cannabis centers. Moreover, a regulated medical cannabis supply system will be established by the DHSS to ensure the safe production and distribution of marijuana and marijuana-infused products to registry identification cardholders.
The Commission is tasked to develop the rules governing the delivery of marijuana and marijuana-infused products to the patient’s or designated caregiver’s homes.
Cabarrus County residents who have any of the following debilitating medical conditions may be able to get a registry identification or medical marijuana card once Senate Bill 3 is approved: cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, ALS, Crohn’s disease, sickle cell anemia, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, cachexia, severe or persistent nausea, terminal illness with a life expectancy of fewer than six months, a condition needing hospice care, and other serious medical condition or its treatment determined by the Compassionate Use Advisory Board. Designated caregivers should be at least 21 years old to qualify.
The Department is in charge of all registry identification card applications. Medical marijuana cards may be issued within 14 business days upon approval and remain valid for one year. This must always be presented when purchasing medical marijuana from medical cannabis centers.
While the approval of Senate Bill 3 is still on the way, Cabarrus County residents diagnosed with intractable epilepsy are covered by the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act. This act allows qualified patients to apply for a North Carolina DHHS Caregiver Registration letter enabling them to possess and use hemp extract to treat intractable epilepsy.
No data related to the impact of the legalization of marijuana on the economy of Cabarrus County exist as of March 2023. Under Senate Bill 3, all retail sales and use of marijuana and marijuana-infused products are tax-exempted. However, licensed suppliers will be mandated to pay a fee equivalent to 10% of the gross revenue from all their medical cannabis centers.
The medical and recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Cabarrus County as of March 2023. For future comparisons, the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office reports the following cases as of 2021 on the FBI Crime Data Explorer: 40 arrests for driving under the influence, 33 arrests for marijuana possession, and seven arrests for marijuana sales offenses.