As of February 2023, in Gaston County and the rest of North Carolina, the cultivation of cannabis, also called marijuana, is not legal for medical or recreational purposes.
On June 6, 2022, Senate Bill (SB) 711 was passed by the North Carolina Senate. It advocated legalizing medicinal cannabis in the state. The Measure, however, was not taken up by the North Carolina House of Representatives. On January 26, 2023, another bill with an identical intention, SB 3, was introduced in the North Carolina Senate. If passed, it will be known as the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, similar to SB 711.
SB 3 seeks the creation of a Medical Cannabis Production Commission, which would be overseen by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It will be the state's regulating and licensing authority for everything related to medicinal cannabis. The Commission's medical cannabis supplier license will allow the licensee to grow medical cannabis crops, process medical cannabis products, and distribute medical cannabis and medical cannabis products to medical marijuana cardholding patients and caregivers at retail. The state will only give a maximum of 10 licenses to medical cannabis suppliers.
Those who wish to apply for a medical cannabis supplier license must have lived in North Carolina for at least two years. They will be expected to have the competence and possess technical and technological skills in the:
Growing, processing, and retailing of medical marijuana
Management of inventory, assurance of quality, and development of products
Maintenance of security and safety systems to safeguard medical cannabis and medical cannabis products, the staff, and the premises
In addition to the $50,000 medical cannabis supplier licensing cost, each applicant must also put up an additional $5,000 for each cultivation site. All of the fees are not refundable. The license must be renewed no later than a month before its one-year term ends.
A medical cannabis supplier licensee's facility must be built on the registered site. The licensee must maintain total control and security of the facility. Only facility workers, approved guests aged 21 and up guided by employees, and emergency services personnel will be permitted admission. The facilities must be open at all times for law enforcement and the North Carolina DHHS to inspect.
Medical cannabis provider license holders have 120 days at most from the date they get their license to begin growing medical cannabis. Each batch of medical marijuana harvests, crop material, and manufactured goods must first undergo testing by a separate laboratory that has been granted a license by the North Carolina DHHS. The Medicinal Cannabis Production Commission may likewise conduct its own testing.
As of February 2023, in Gaston County and all of North Carolina, the manufacturing of any product containing cannabis, also referred to as marijuana, is illegal, both for medical and recreational use.
SB 3 advocates that medical cannabis manufacturing be permitted, provided a medical cannabis supplier license from the North Carolina DHHS's Medical Cannabis Production Commission is acquired. For each manufacturing facility that will be operated, the license holder must pay an additional $5,000 to the medical cannabis provider licensing cost of $50,000. The licensee must then observe all of the abovementioned rules for medicinal cannabis supplier licensees.
As of February 2023, in North Carolina, including Gaston County, the retail selling of any type of medical or recreational marijuana, another term for cannabis, is prohibited.
If passed, SB 3 will permit each medical cannabis supplier license holder to eight medical cannabis centers at most, with at least one situated within a Tier 1 county. Each medical cannabis center requires a separate $5,000 payment in addition to the licensing cost of $50,000 for medical cannabis suppliers. The medical cannabis center must start selling medical cannabis and medical cannabis products no later than 270 days after the licensee began cultivating medical cannabis.
Medical marijuana, medical marijuana products, and the equipment required to deliver medical marijuana will be the only items allowed for sale at medical cannabis centers. Only registered patients and caregivers with medical marijuana cards will be allowed to purchase from medical cannabis centers. Only registered patients and caregivers will be permitted entry to medical cannabis centers, in addition to the center's personnel and accompanied approved guests.
The licensee must adhere to the previously discussed requirements for medical cannabis supplier licenses. Furthermore, the medical marijuana center needs to be more than 1,000 feet away from a house of worship, daycare facility, private or public school, or community college. It is necessary to keep medical cannabis, medical cannabis goods, and medical cannabis-related accessories hidden from outside view. On-premises use or consumption of medical cannabis or medical cannabis products will be forbidden. Only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. may medical cannabis clinics sell.
Before making a transaction, each medical cannabis center staff must complete the following:
Verify the identity of the patient or caregiver with the medical cannabis registry card provided.
Verify the legitimacy of the medical cannabis registry card on the online registry.
Verify the patient's prescription on the online registry to ensure that the patient's purchase is within the 30-day supply cap.
Verify the patient's recommended medicinal cannabis administration method on the online registry to check that the purchase is appropriate.
On the North Carolina DHHS Medicinal Cannabis Production Commission's online verification system, enter the following information:
The registry identification number of the medical cannabis center
The identity of the patient or caregiver
The purchasing date and time
The amount of medical cannabis or cannabis products bought
As of February 2023, in the State of North Carolina, including Gaston County, the delivery of all types of medical or recreational cannabis or marijuana is forbidden.
According to SB 3, it should be permissible to deliver medicinal cannabis to patients and caregivers who have medical marijuana cards and have purchased from a licensed medical cannabis center. It proposes that the North Carolina DHHS Medicinal Cannabis Production Commission develop the guidelines for this.
As of February 2023, it is not possible to get a medical marijuana card in Gaston County because the State of North Carolina has not yet legalized medical cannabis.
Yet, under the current North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, a North Carolina DHHS Caregiver Registration letter authorizes the possession and use of hemp extract to treat individuals with intractable epilepsy.
Hemp extract is derived from the cannabis plant as well. The Epilepsy Alternative Therapy Act restricts the possession and use of hemp extracts to that with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content below 0.9% and cannabidiol (CBD) content of 5% or more, all by weight. But, because the growing, processing, and sale of cannabis are still illegal in North Carolina, caregivers must seek hemp extract for patients from providers outside the state.
A patient who has been given the diagnosis of intractable epilepsy unresponsive to any other medication by a neurologist who is duly licensed in North Carolina is considered a qualified patient. There are no age restrictions on individuals that neurologists may refer to the Epilepsy Alternative Therapy program. Every qualified patient requires a caregiver who is either the patient's parent, legal guardian, or custodian. Caregivers in North Carolina must be at least 18 years old and live in the state.
The Caregiver Registration Application, which may be downloaded and printed, must be filled out legibly and mailed with a copy of the caregiver’s North Carolina military ID, state ID, or driver's license to this address:
NC Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Registration
3008 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
The North Carolina DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services will mail the approved Caregiver Registration letter to qualified caregivers. While carrying hemp extract, the caregiver must always have the letter.
For questions or further information, please contact the following:
North Carolina Drug Control Unit
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday
If SB 3 succeeds, the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission will issue a medical marijuana card to patients and caregivers after they fulfill the following process:
A written certification is required, issued by a qualified physician and declaring that the patient is afflicted with one of the specified debilitating medical conditions for which medical cannabis therapy is allowed.
A qualified physician is defined as a licensed doctor of medicine who has completed a 10-hour medical cannabis prescription course as well as a three-hour supplementary course for each year of providing the registry medical cannabis written certificates.
The debilitating medical conditions that qualify for medical cannabis treatment are:
Sickle cell anemia
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Persistent or severe nausea in homebound or bedridden patients
Illnesses that require hospice care
Terminal illnesses with a life expectancy of fewer than six months
Other medical conditions to be identified by the Commission
The physician is required to inform each patient about the dangers associated with driving after using medical marijuana or ingesting it, as well as the possibilities and symptoms of cannabis use disorder and cannabis-induced psychosis.
The written certification must be posted on the medical cannabis registry by the doctor.
Eligible patients below the age of 18 require caregivers and are entitled to a maximum of two. One of these must be the patient's parent, legal guardian, or custodian. Exceptions to the maximum number of caregivers for a patient may be allowed by the Commission.
It is the caregiver's responsibility to ensure that:
The patient receives medical cannabis therapy.
The patient's required medical cannabis is purchased.
The recommended dosage and frequency of medicinal cannabis usage are followed.
Only non-inhalation administration methods are used.
Both patients and caregivers are required to pay the $28 application cost for a medical cannabis card.
Only qualifying patients and caregivers will be issued medical cannabis registry cards.
As of February 2023, medical or recreational marijuana or cannabis is not legal in North Carolina. Therefore, it has not impacted the economy of the state or of Gaston County. Any hemp extract required for treating patients through the Epilepsy Alternative Therapy Act must be obtained from another state.
Any hemp extract required for treating patients through the Epilepsy Alternative Therapy Act must be obtained from another state.
However, sales tax could be applied to medical cannabis sales made by licensed medical cannabis suppliers if SB 3 is approved. Moreover, the Bill provides that license holders pay the North Carolina DHHS 10% of their total sales of medical cannabis and medical cannabis-related items as a monthly fee.
As of February 2023, medical or recreational marijuana or cannabis is still illegal in Gaston County.
Data from the Gaston County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page shows that in 2021, there was one arrest related to marijuana offenses, and it was for marijuana possession. There were three DUI arrests in the same year.