North Carolina Medical Marijuana

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What is Medical Marijuana in North Carolina?

Technically, medical marijuana is illegal in North Carolina. However, the state permits cannabis extracts with less than 0.9% THC and at least 5% CBD, by weight, to be used medicinally. Typically available as oils, these extracts are permitted as an alternative treatment for patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. Intractable epilepsy refers to epilepsy or seizure disorders that do not respond to conventional medication. A patient with this disorder can obtain a recommendation from their neurologist to use this medication to treat the condition.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the main active compounds found in marijuana. CBD possesses none of the psychoactive properties of THC and can also be derived from industrial hemp plants. Both compounds possess therapeutic properties that provide patients with relief from several conditions including inflammation, depression, anxiety, pain, insomnia, and seizures. CBD with 0% THC content is legal in North Carolina.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in North Carolina?

Yes, medical marijuana is legal in North Carolina. However, the state only permits very limited medical cannabis usage. North Carolina legalized medical marijuana in 2015 through House Bill 766 (the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act). Per the provisions of this Act, medical marijuana patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy can legally use marijuana products containing less than 0.9% of tetrahydrocannabinol (low-THC cannabis). The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) administers the state's medical marijuana program.

Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in North Carolina?

Only registered medical marijuana patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy and their caregivers can legally possess low-THC cannabis products for medical use in North Carolina. However, House Bill 766 does not provide guidelines for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state or specify how registered medical marijuana patients can obtain cannabis products. Therefore, registered marijuana patients with intractable epilepsy are limited to buying hemp-derived products which can only contain a maximum of 0.3% of THC. Nevertheless, when registered medical marijuana patients from North Carolina visit other states in the US that permit cannabis sale to out-of-state patients, they may purchase and use marijuana products.

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, it is illegal for registered medical marijuana patients or caregivers to cultivate cannabis plants at home. Per Section 90.94 of the North Carolina General Statutes, marijuana is a Schedule VI controlled substance. Therefore, in line with Section 90.95 of the North Carolina General Statutes, anyone growing marijuana plants in the state risks facing severe penalties.

Do You Need to See a Doctor to Get Medical Marijuana in North Carolina?

Before a person can legally use low-THC cannabis products for medical reasons in North Carolina, they must see a neurologist. As stipulated in House Bill 766, a neurologist may recommend medical marijuana for a patient if they diagnose the patient with intractable epilepsy and consider medical marijuana treatment beneficial to them. Nevertheless, this individual must have a caregiver who is their parent, legal guardian, or custodian before they can enroll in the state's medical marijuana program as a patient. North Carolina does not have a registry of licensed neurologists that can recommend medical marijuana treatment in the state. According to House Bill 766, any North Carolina-licensed neurologist may recommend medical cannabis for eligible patients.

Can a Minor Get a Medical Marijuana Card in North Carolina?

There is no age limit for medical marijuana use in North Carolina. However, per House Bill 766, a minor with intractable epilepsy requires approval, from their parent, guardian, or legal custodian who will be their caregiver, before seeking access to medical marijuana.

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in North Carolina

The North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act does not contain guidelines for medical marijuana identification card issuance to patients. Therefore, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) does not require medical marijuana patients to apply for cards under the state's medical marijuana program. Only caregivers are required to register with the NCDHHS.

Does North Carolina Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Designate Caregivers?

Medical marijuana caregivers are individuals who can assist qualified medical marijuana patients in administering medical marijuana and possess cannabis products for their patients' use. The provisions of House Bill 766 make it compulsory for medical marijuana patients in North Carolina to have caregivers. However, the state does not assign caregivers to medical cannabis patients. For a person to be a medical marijuana patient's caregiver, they must be the patient's legal guardian, parent, or custodian. Also, a medical marijuana caregiver in North Carolina must be resident in the state, be 18 years or older, and have a written statement from a licensed neurologist stating that:

  • Their patient has been examined by the neurologist
  • Their patient suffers from intractable epilepsy
  • Their patient could benefit from medical marijuana treatment

Medical marijuana caregivers in North Carolina are required to register with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and obtain letters of approval before they can operate legally. House Bill 766 does not limit the number of medical marijuana patients that caregivers are allowed to manage.

What Is the Cost of a North Carolina Medical Marijuana Card?

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) does not issue medical marijuana cards to medical marijuana patients in the state. Therefore, qualifying patients are not required to pay for medical marijuana cards. Also, caregivers are not required to pay before obtaining letters of approval from the NCDHHS.

What Do You Need When Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act does not permit the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. Therefore, there are no medical marijuana dispensaries in North Carolina where qualifying patients can obtain cannabis products.

How to Renew Your North Carolina Medical Marijuana Card

House Bill 766 does not require medical marijuana patients in North Carolina to obtain identification cards from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). Therefore, there is no guideline for medical marijuana card renewals in the state.

Is It Possible to Overdose on Cannabis in North Carolina?

It is highly unlikely for a patient to overdose on cannabis extracts, particularly CBD oils, in North Carolina. CBD, being the major compound in the medication, has no psychoactive properties and is safe with little risk of overdose or dependency. A WHO report established that CBD had low toxicity levels and little or no effect, physiologically or biochemically, on a range of animal behaviors. Some patients have reported such symptoms as fatigue, change in appetite, and drowsiness from CBD oil use but these cases are rare.

If I am Pregnant, Can I Use Marijuana to Relieve Nausea in North Carolina?

It is not recommended that pregnant women and nursing mothers use cannabis extracts in North Carolina. Women regularly experience nausea during pregnancy, especially during the early periods. As a result of marijuana's reputation for alleviating such symptoms, some women have taken to using it for relief. However, this is not advisable as there are no studies or reports about its safety. The fetus will be able to absorb the CBD from the mother's bloodstream and the effects of this on the mother and child are unknown.

It is also illegal for pregnant women to use cannabis extracts for nausea relief in North Carolina. Pregnant women will not receive recommendations from neurologists and as such can not register to legally use cannabis extracts medicinally in North Carolina.

North Carolina Medical Marijuana