North Carolina has not legalized cannabis for medical or recreational purposes as of February 2023. Hence, its cultivation is not legal in New Hanover County.
Senate Bill (SB) 711, passed by the North Carolina Senate on June 6, 2022, proposed that medical cannabis be legalized in the state. However, the Bill was not tackled by the North Carolina House of Representatives. Another Bill, SB 3, with the same proposal, was filed in the North Carolina Senate on January 26, 2023. Like SB 711 it will be named the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act if it becomes law.
SB 3 is proposing that a Medical Cannabis Production Commission be created, to be managed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It will be the governing body for the regulation and licensing of medical cannabis throughout the state. The medical cannabis supplier license that will be issued by the Commission will authorize the licensee to cultivate medical cannabis crops, manufacture medical cannabis products, and sell by retail to registered patients and caregivers medical cannabis and medical cannabis products. Not more than 10 medical cannabis supplier licenses will be issued across the state.
To qualify, applicants for the medical cannabis supplier license must have at least two years of residency in North Carolina. They will be required to be knowledgeable and have the technical and technological abilities for:
Medical cannabis growing, processing, and retail selling
Product development, quality control, and inventory management
The protection of all medical cannabis inventory, personnel, and premises through safety and security measures
Applicants must each pay the $50,000 medical cannabis supplier license fee with $5,000 more per cultivation facility each will put up. These are all non-refundable. They must renew the license not later than one month before its one-year validity period expires.
Any facility of a medical cannabis supplier licensee must be established at the registered location. The licensee must completely control and secure the facility. Only employees, approved visitors aged 21 and above escorted by employees, and staff of emergency services are to be allowed entry. At any time, the facilities must be opened for the inspection of law enforcement agencies and the North Carolina DHHS.
From the time they receive their license, medical cannabis supplier license holders have a maximum of 120 days to start medical marijuana cultivation. Before being sold, every batch of medical marijuana crops, plant material, and products must have representative samples tested by a separate laboratory with a license from the North Carolina DHHS. Separately, the Medical Cannabis Production Commission may also do its own tests.
North Carolina has not legalized the manufacturing of cannabis products for medical or recreational purposes as of February 2023, therefore, this is not allowed in New Hanover 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.
Since North Carolina has not legalized cannabis or cannabis products for medical or recreational purposes as of February 2023, its retail selling is not permitted in New Hanover County.
If enacted into law, SB 3 will allow each medical cannabis supplier license holder to have not more than eight medical cannabis centers, of which at least one is required to be in a Tier 1 county. The $50,000 medical cannabis supplier license fee must be paid, along with an additional $5,000 for each medical cannabis center to be opened. The selling of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products in medical cannabis centers must begin 270 days at most from the time the licensee started growing medical cannabis.
Merchandise in the medical cannabis centers will be limited to medical marijuana, medical marijuana products, and the accessories needed to administer medical marijuana. Medical cannabis centers will only be authorized to sell to registered patients and caregivers who are medical marijuana card holders. In addition to employees and escorted authorized visitors, only registered patients and caregivers are to be allowed to enter medical cannabis centers.
The license holder will be required to follow the previously stated regulations for medical cannabis supplier licenses. Also, the medical cannabis center must be at a distance of over 1,000 feet from a childcare center, public or private school, community college, or place of worship. Visibility of medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and medical cannabis paraphernalia from the outside must be prevented. The consumption or use of medical marijuana or medical marijuana products on the premises must be prohibited. Medical cannabis centers can only sell from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The following must be ensured by the medical cannabis center staff prior to any purchase:
The patient’s or caregiver’s identity must be verified against the presented medical cannabis registry card.
The medical cannabis registry card presented must be verified in the online registry.
The patient’s prescription in the online registry must be verified to ensure that the patient does not exceed the 30-day supply rule.
The prescribed medical marijuana delivery method for the patient must be verified in the online registry to ensure that the medical cannabis being purchased complies.
The following data must be logged in the online verification system of the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission:
The medical cannabis center identification number in the registry
The name of the patient or caregiver
The time and date of the transaction
The purchased quantity of medical marijuana or medical marijuana products
North Carolina has not legalized the delivery of cannabis and cannabis products for medical or recreational purposes as of February 2023, hence, this is not permissible in New Hanover County.
If SB 3 becomes law, licensed medical cannabis centers will be allowed to deliver medical marijuana or medical marijuana products purchased by patients and caregivers who are medical cannabis registry card holders. Such delivery will be governed by rules and regulations to be set by the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission.
As of February 2023, medical marijuana cards are not issued in North Carolina, including New Hanover County, since medical cannabis is not legal in the state.
The Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, however, permits the use of hemp extract, also from the cannabis plant, for treating intractable epilepsy of qualified patients. A caregiver must have a North Carolina DHHS Caregiver Registration letter that authorizes the possession of hemp extract and its use on qualified patients.
Under the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, hemp extract is only allowed if it has lower than 0.9% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and not less than 5% cannabidiol (CBD) content by weight. As of February 2023, this can only be purchased outside the state since North Carolina has not legalized the retail sale, manufacturing, or cultivation of medical cannabis from which it can be extracted.
A qualified patient is one who has been diagnosed by a North Carolina-licensed neurologist with intractable epilepsy that is not responsive to any other treatment. There is no restriction on the age of patients that such neurologists can send to the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment program.
A qualified patient needs a caregiver who is the patient’s parent, custodian, or legal guardian. A caretaker must be aged 18 and above and reside in North Carolina.
The downloaded and printed Caregiver Registration Application must be legibly completed and sent to the following address with a photocopy of a North Carolina state ID, driver’s license, or military ID:
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 send the Caregiver Registration letter after approval. Whenever the caregiver is carrying any hemp extract, this letter must be carried, as well.
The following may be contacted for more information or queries:
North Carolina Drug Control Unit
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday
If SB 3 is passed, a medical marijuana card will be issued by the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission to patients and caregivers who complete the following procedures:
The patient must have a written certification from a qualified physician stating that the patient is diagnosed to have one of the qualifying debilitating medical conditions for medical cannabis treatment.
A qualified doctor is one who has passed a 10-hour medical cannabis prescription course and an additional three-hour supplemental course for every year of issuing medical cannabis written certifications for the registry.
The qualifying debilitating medical conditions for medical cannabis treatment are:
Sickle cell anemia
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Post-traumatic stress disorder wi
A medical condition that needs hospice care
Homebound or bedridden patients with persistent or severe nausea
Terminal illness with shorter than six months of life expectancy
Any other medical condition referred by the Commission
The doctor must warn each patient about the possible risks and symptoms of cannabis-induced psychosis and cannabis use disorder, as well as the danger of driving after consuming or using medical marijuana.
The doctor must post the written certification on the medical cannabis registry.
Qualified patients under 18 years old need caregivers and are allowed two, at most, of whom one is required to be the patient’s parent, custodian, or legal guardian. The Commission may allow exceptions to the permissible number of caretakers.
The caregiver is responsible for ensuring that:
Medical cannabis treatment is given to the patient
The medical cannabis needed by the patient is purchased
The prescribed dosage and frequency of medical cannabis use is complied with
Only non-inhalation methods of delivery are administered
The $28 medical cannabis card application fee must be paid by each patient and caregiver.
The issuance of medical cannabis registry cards will only be to qualified patients and caregivers.
The medical or recreational use of cannabis has not been legalized as of February 2023 in North Carolina. Hence, there is no impact on the economy of New Hanover County. Any hemp extract allowed by the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act has to be bought from out of state.
If SB 3 becomes law, however, sales tax may be imposed on the sales of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products by licensed medical cannabis suppliers. Moreover, licensees will be required to pay 10% of their gross sales receipts on medical cannabis and medical cannabis products as a monthly fee to the North Carolina DHHS.
Cannabis for medical or recreational use is not legal in North Carolina as of February 2023.
According to the latest data from the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, in 2021, there were 62 arrests related to marijuana offenses, of which 54 were for marijuana possession, and eight were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. There were 86 DUI arrests in the same year.