No, cannabis cultivation for medical or recreational use is not legal in Chatham County as of February 2023.
On June 6, 2022, the North Carolina Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 711, proposing the legalization of medical cannabis. SB 711, however, did not prosper in the North Carolina House of Representatives. On January 26, 2023, SB 3 was filed in the Senate, also proposing the legalization of medical cannabis and also to be called the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act if ratified.
SB 3 proposes the establishment of a Medical Cannabis Production Commission under the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to oversee the licensing and regulation of medical cannabis in the state. There will be a medical cannabis supplier license to be granted by the Commission authorizing the holder to cultivate cannabis, manufacture medical cannabis products, and sell by retail medical cannabis and medical cannabis products by retail only to patients and caregivers registered in a medical cannabis program registry to be established. Only 10 medical cannabis supplier licenses will be approved by the Commission statewide.
Applicants must be residents of North Carolina for a minimum of two years. They must prove that they have the expertise and technical and technological capabilities to:
Cultivate, manufacture, and dispense medical cannabis
Implement product development, quality control, and inventory management
Ensure security and safety for all facilities, goods, and personnel
There will be a non-refundable license fee of $50,000 plus $5,000 for each cultivation facility to be operated. The license will be valid for a year and must be renewed not later than one month before it expires.
Licensed medical cannabis supplier facilities must be located at their registered address and must be fully controlled and secured. Access must be restricted to employees, escorted authorized guests aged 21 and older, and emergency services staff. The facilities may be inspected at any time by the North Carolina DHHS and law enforcement agencies.
All medical cannabis plants, plant parts, and medical cannabis products must undergo representative batch sample testing by an independent laboratory licensed by the North Carolina DHHS before being sold by retail. The Medical Cannabis Production Commission may also do separate testing.
A medical cannabis supplier licensee will be required to start cultivating medical cannabis not more than 120 days after being given the license.
No, cannabis manufacturing for medical or recreational use is not legal in Chatham County as of February 2023.
SB 3 proposes that medical cannabis manufacturing be allowed also under the medical cannabis supplier license to be granted by the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission. In addition to the license fee, a $5,000 fee must be paid for each manufacturing facility to be operated by the licensee. The licensee must comply with all regulations covering medical cannabis supplier licenses as stated above.
No, the retail sale of cannabis for medical or recreational use is not legal in Chatham County as of February 2023.
SB 3 proposes that a maximum of eight medical cannabis centers will be allowed for each medical cannabis supplier licensee to own and operate. A medical cannabis center will be allowed to sell only medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and paraphernalia for the administration of medical cannabis. They will only be allowed to sell to patients and caregivers who hold medical cannabis registry cards. Such patients and caregivers will be the only ones allowed in the medical cannabis center apart from its employees and authorized guests.
Each licensee must have at least one medical cannabis center in a Tier 1 county. In addition to the license fee, a $5,000 fee must be paid for each medical cannabis center to be operated by the licensee. The licensee must abide by all regulations covering medical cannabis supplier licenses as stated previously.
In addition, a medical cannabis center must be more than 1,000 feet from a church, childcare facility, private or public school, or community college. All medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and paraphernalia must not be seen from outside the center. The use and consumption of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products will be prohibited on the premises of the center. Allowed selling hours will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. only.
A medical cannabis supplier licensee will be required to start selling medical cannabis and medical cannabis products not more than 270 days from starting cultivation. Before every sale, a medical cannabis center employee must first ensure the following:
Confirm the identity of the patient or caregiver through a medical cannabis registry card.
Confirm the validity of the medical cannabis registry card online.
Confirm the patient’s prescription online and ensure that the purchase will not put the patient beyond a 30-day supply limit.
Confirm that the purchase is compliant with the delivery method in the prescription.
Log the following in the online verification system to be established by the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission: \
The medical cannabis center’s registry identification number
The patient or caregiver’s identity
The date and time of purchase
The quantity of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products purchased
No, the delivery of cannabis for medical or recreational use is not legal in Chatham County as of February 2023.
SB 3 proposes that the delivery of medical cannabis purchased from a licensed medical cannabis center to patients and caregivers who hold a medical cannabis registry card be allowed. This will be subject to rules to be established by the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission.
Since medical cannabis is not legal in North Carolina, including Chatham County, as of February 2023, the state does not issue a medical marijuana card.
There is, however, a North Carolina DHHS Caregiver Registration letter that allows the possession and use of hemp extract for the treatment of patients with intractable epilepsy under the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act.
The hemp extract also comes from the cannabis plant. The Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act only allows the possession and use of hemp extract with less than 0.9% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a minimum of 5% cannabidiol (CBD), both by weight. However, while the cultivation, manufacturing, and selling of cannabis are still prohibited in North Carolina, caregivers must find sources outside the state for the hemp extract to be used for their patients.
For a patient to be allowed treatment with hemp extract in North Carolina, a state-licensed neurologist must do the diagnosis and referral to the program. There must be no other treatment that has effectively treated the patient’s case of intractable epilepsy. No age limit has been set for patients.
The patient must be represented by a caregiver who is a parent, legal guardian, or custodian. The caregiver must be a North Carolina resident who is at least 18 years old.
The caregiver must download, print, legibly fill out, and sign the Caregiver Registration Application. This must be sent along with a photocopy of the caregiver’s North Carolina driver’s license, state ID, or military ID to:
NC Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Registration
3008 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
If the application is approved, the North Carolina DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services will send the Caregiver Registration letter. This must be carried by the caregiver whenever in possession of hemp extract.
For further information, the following may be contacted:
North Carolina Drug Control Unit
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday
Once SB 3 is passed, it proposes the issuance of a medical marijuana registry card by the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission after the following process is completed:
The patient must be diagnosed by a qualified physician to have a qualified debilitating condition and is issued a written certification.
A qualified physician must have completed a 10-hour course on medical cannabis prescription, with a three-hour supplemental course for every year that the doctor is issuing written certifications for the medical cannabis registry.
The qualifying debilitating conditions listed in the Bill are:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Sickle cell anemia
Post-traumatic stress disorder with evidence of trauma
Severe or persistent nausea in a bedridden or homebound patient
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Any condition requiring hospice care
Any terminal illness with a life expectancy lower than six months
Any medical condition that may be added by the Commission
The physician must inform the patient of the risks and symptoms of cannabis use disorder, cannabis-induced psychosis, and the dangers of driving under the influence of medical cannabis.
The physician must submit the written certification online to the medical cannabis registry database.
Qualified patients below 18 years old must be assigned a maximum of two caregivers, one of whom must be the patient’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian. The caregiver must ensure that the patient is allowed the use of medical cannabis but must control its acquisition, dosage, and frequency of use. Also, the caregiver must ensure that only non-inhalation methods of delivery are used. The Commission may grant exceptions to the maximum allowed number of caregivers for a patient.
There will be an application fee of $28.
The medical cannabis registry card will be issued to patients and caregivers.
Since cannabis for medical or recreational use has not been legalized in North Carolina as of February 2023, the economy of Chatham County is not affected by cannabis. Also, the hemp extract used by patients under the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act has to be purchased from outside the state.
SB 3 proposes that medical cannabis supplier licensees’ sales be covered by sales tax. In addition, it proposes that they pay the North Carolina DHHS a monthly fee equivalent to 10% of their gross sales of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products.
Cannabis for medical or recreational use has not been legalized in North Carolina, including Chatham County, as of February 2023.
As a baseline, data from the Chatham County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page shows that, in 2021, there were 25 arrests related to marijuana offenses, of which 22 were for marijuana possession, and three were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. There were 10 DUI arrests in 2021.