As of February 2023, it is illegal to cultivate cannabis even for medical purposes in the State of North Carolina, including Guilford County.
The legalization of medical cannabis was proposed by Senate Bill (SB) 711 which was already passed by the North Carolina Senate on June 6, 2022. However, SB 711 did not advance in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Another Senate Bill, namely SB 3, also pushing for medical cannabis legalization, was filed on January 26, 2023, in the Senate. If ratified, it will also be called the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act as in SB 711.
The creation under the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) of a Medical Cannabis Production Commission to manage the licensing and regulation of medical cannabis statewide is proposed by SB 3. This commission will have the authority to grant medical cannabis supplier licenses which entitle the holders the permission to cultivate, manufacture, and even sell medical cannabis products by retail. There will be 10 licenses granted by this commission once legalization is in full effect.
North Carolina residents for more than two years are the only ones qualified to apply for the medical cannabis supplier license. These applicants must prove to the commission that they have the technical knowledge and competence for:
The cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing of medical cannabis
The implementation of inventory management, quality control, and product development
The establishment of a safety and security system for all goods, facilities, and staff
The license fee will be $50,000, with an additional $5,000 for every cultivation facility the licensee will operate. Licenses will only be valid for one year, and holders must renew not less than a month before the expiration date.
A licensed medical cannabis supplier facility must be put up at the address registered with the Medical Cannabis Production Commission. It must be a fully secured and controlled facility, with entry limited only to employees, authorized visitors not younger than age 21 accompanied by facility employees, and emergency services workers. The North Carolina DHHS and law enforcement personnel must be allowed to inspect the premises at any time.
A North Carolina DHH-licensed independent laboratory must test representative batch samples of all medical marijuana plants, plant parts, and products. Separate testing may also be done by the Medical Cannabis Production Commission.
Not later than 120 days after receiving the license, the medical cannabis supplier license holder must start growing medical marijuana.
It is currently illegal to manufacture cannabis even for medical purposes in the state of North Carolina, including Guilford County.
What SB 3 proposes is that the manufacturing of medical cannabis be allowed under the medical cannabis supplier license to be issued by the Medical Cannabis Production Commission of the North Carolina DHHS. The license holder must add $5,000 to the $50,000 medical cannabis supplier license fee for every manufacturing facility it will operate. The licensee is then required to abide by all aforementioned regulations for medical cannabis supplier licenses.
It is illegal to sell cannabis by retail even for medical purposes in the state of North Carolina, including Guilford County as of February 2023.
If SB 3 is passed, every medical cannabis supplier licensee will be authorized to own and run up to 8 medical cannabis centers. A minimum of one medical cannabis center of each licensee must be in a Tier 1 county. The licensee must pay a $5,000 fee for every medical cannabis center it will operate in addition to the $50,000 license fee. No more than 270 days from starting to grow medical marijuana, the licensee must start selling medical cannabis and medical cannabis products in its medical cannabis centers.
Only medical marijuana, medical marijuana products, and implements needed to administer medical marijuana can be sold by retail. Dispensaries will be permitted to sell these only to medical cannabis registry card-holding patients and caregivers. Entry to the medical cannabis center is restricted to these registered patients and caregivers, personnel, and authorized visitors.
Each licensee must observe all the regulations previously stated for medical cannabis supplier licenses. Furthermore, each medical cannabis center must be located over 1,000 feet away from a private or public school, childcare establishment, community college, or church. From outside the center, no medical marijuana, medical marijuana products, and marijuana accessories must be visible. Consuming or using medical marijuana or medical marijuana products will be forbidden in medical cannabis centers. Selling will be permitted only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Since medical cannabis legalization is still being deliberated as of February 2023, the delivery of cannabis and cannabis products is not permissible in Guilford County.
SB 3 proposes the legalization of these deliveries from licensed medical cannabis centers to patients and caregivers who are medical cannabis registry card holders — this will be the case if SB 3 becomes law. The North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission will set the rules for medical cannabis deliveries.
As of February 2023, North Carolina is not issuing medical marijuana cards because medical cannabis is not legal in the state.
However, the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act allows the use of hemp extract to treat patients with intractable epilepsy, and this is also extracted from the cannabis plant. A North Carolina DHHS Caregiver Registration letter is required to possess hemp extract and use it for treating qualified patients.
Only hemp extract with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content lower than 0.9% and cannabidiol (CBD) content of at least 5% by weight is allowed by the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act. As of February 2023, hemp extract needed to treat epilepsy patients has to be purchased from outside North Carolina since the state still prohibits the cultivation, manufacturing, and selling of any type of cannabis, whether for medical or recreational use.
To qualify for hemp extract treatment, a patient must be diagnosed with intractable epilepsy by a neurologist licensed to practice in North Carolina and referred to the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment program. The neurologist must find no other treatment effective for the patient’s medical condition. There is no age restriction for patients.
Each qualified patient must have a caregiver. The caregiver must be the patient’s parent, legal guardian, or custodian who is a resident of North Carolina and is aged 18 and older.
The Caregiver Registration Application must be downloaded, printed, and completed by the caregiver before sending with a photocopy of a North Carolina driver’s license, military ID, or state ID, or to:
NC Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Registration
3008 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
The Caregiver Registration letter will be sent to approved caregivers by the North Carolina DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. The caregiver must have the letter when carrying hemp extract.
Contact the following for queries or more information:
North Carolina Drug Control Unit
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday
If SB 3 is enacted into law, the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission will be authorized to issue a medical marijuana card to patients and caregivers under the following conditions:
A qualified physician must have diagnosed the patient to be suffering from a qualified debilitating medical condition and provided a written certification.
To be qualified, a physician will be required to complete a 10-hour medical cannabis prescription course. Every additional year that doctors continue to issue medical cannabis registry written certifications, they are required to take a three-hour supplemental course.
The listed qualifying debilitating conditions are:
Sickle cell anemia
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Post-traumatic stress disorder with evidence of trauma
A homebound or bedridden patient’s persistent or severe nausea
A medical condition that requires hospice care
A terminal illness where life expectancy is shorter than six months
Any other medical condition to be named by the Commission
The patient must be informed by the doctor of the symptoms and dangers of cannabis-induced psychosis, cannabis use disorder, and the hazards of driving after the consumption or use of medical marijuana.
The written certification must be submitted by the doctor to the database of the medical cannabis registry.
Two caregivers at most must be registered for qualified patients aged younger than 18. One of the caregivers must be a parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the patient. Exceptions to the number of caregivers for a patient may be granted by the Commission.
It will be the responsibility of the caregiver to ensure the following:
The patient is given medical cannabis treatment
Medical cannabis is purchased for the patient
The proper dose of medical cannabis and frequency of use are followed
Methods of medical cannabis delivery do not include inhalation
The patient and caregiver must pay the $28 medical cannabis card application fee.
Only qualified patients and caregivers will be issued the medical cannabis registry card.
Since cannabis for medical or recreational use has not been legalized in North Carolina as of February 2023, the economy of Guilford 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 has not yet been legalized even for medical purposes in the state of North Carolina, including Guilford County as of February 2023.
According to the latest information reported by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, there were 597 arrests for drug abuse violations in 2020. In the same year, there were 512 arrests for drug possession, of which 293 arrests were for marijuana possession. There were 81 arrests for drug manufacturing or sales, of which 43 arrests were for marijuana sales. Meanwhile, there were 417 DUI arrests.