It is illegal to cultivate cannabis for medical or adult use in Onslow County and the entire State of North Carolina as of April 2023.
Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) proposes the legalization of medical cannabis in the State of North Carolina, including its licensed cultivation, product manufacturing, and retail selling and delivery to holders of the state medical cannabis card. It shall be called the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act if signed into law. It passed the North Carolina Senate on March 1, 2023, with a 36-10 vote. It passed the first reading in the state’s House of Representatives on March 6, and will have to go through further readings.
Senate Bill 346 (SB 346) proposes the legalization of adult-use cannabis in the State of North Carolina, including its licensed cultivation, product manufacturing, and retail selling and delivery to individuals who are aged 21 and older. If made into law, it shall be called the North Carolina Marijuana Justice and Reinvestment Act. Part II of SB 346 proposes the legalization of medical cannabis in the state, which will then be discussed again in both the Senate and the House in the event that SB 3 does not pass in the House.
SB 3 includes the creation of a medical cannabis regulatory and licensing body called the Medical Cannabis Production Commission to be created within the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). It shall issue the medical cannabis supplier license. With this, the licensee is authorized not only to cultivate medical cannabis but also to manufacture medical cannabis products, and sell and deliver medical cannabis and its products to the state’s medical cannabis cardholders.
A company applying for a medical cannabis supplier license must have a majority owner who has resided in North Carolina for a minim of two years. All company owners, officers, and employees will undergo a criminal background check. Medical cannabis cultivation and all other licensed medical cannabis supplier activities related to medical cannabis must be in a controlled and secure facility. Only authorized individuals are to be allowed entry.
SB 3 requires a medical cannabis supplier initial license fee of $50,000 with an additional $5,000 for every medical cannabis facility to be set up, whether for cultivation, manufacturing, or retail selling. The validity of the license is 12 months and renewal is required not later than one month before the expiration date. There is a renewal fee of $10,000 and another $1,000 for every existing medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, or retail facility. If the licensee wishes to add more facilities, the fee is $5,000 for every new one.
SB 346 assigns adult-use cannabis regulation and licensing to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS). All types of adult-use cannabis business applications, including cultivation, must be approved by the local government where it will be located. A county or municipality is authorized to ban through an ordinance the setting up of any adult-use cannabis business within its jurisdiction, including adult-use cannabis cultivation. The application fee for any adult-use cannabis business must not exceed $5,000. There will be licensing and renewal fees to be set by the NCDPS.
An adult-use cannabis cultivation company is required to first apply to the NCDPS for an adult-use cannabis cultivation facility license. The licensee will then be authorized to cultivate adult-use cannabis outdoors or indoors according to tiers to be set by the NCDPS based on the number of cannabis plants and the facility size.
SB 346 proposes that individuals aged 21 and above in the State of North Carolina be allowed to cultivate a maximum of six cannabis plants in their residence. If they do not own the place, they must have the owner’s approval to do this. The cannabis must be grown in an area that is enclosed and locked to prevent access by minors and to shield the activity from public sight.
It is illegal to manufacture cannabis for medical or adult use in Onslow County and the whole of the State of North Carolina as of April 2023.
Under SB 3, a medical cannabis manufacturing company will also be required to get an NCDHHS medical cannabis supplier license with the same process and requirements as those for medical cannabis cultivation companies. All the rules for the processing, packaging, and labeling of medical cannabis set forth by SB 3 must be complied with.
Under SB 346, an adult-use cannabis manufacturing company will be required to apply to the NCDPS for a cannabis product manufacturing facility license provided the county, city, or town it will be located in allows adult-use cannabis manufacturing facilities. All SB 346 rules covering adult-use cannabis processing, packaging, and labeling must be followed.
It is illegal to sell medical or adult-use cannabis by retail in Onslow County and the rest of the State of North Carolina as of April 2023.
Under SB 3, a medical cannabis retail company is also required to obtain an NCDHHS medical cannabis supplier license using the same process and complying with the same requirements as those for medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing companies. The license will authorize the holder to establish a dispensary called a medical cannabis treatment center through which it can sell by retail exclusively to the state’s medical cannabis cardholders only medical cannabis and its products, including cannabis-infused edible products, as well as medical cannabis paraphernalia. The licensed dispensary must verify the validity of the medical cannabis card through an online registry to be created by the NCDHHS.
SB 3 restricts the location of medical cannabis treatment centers to over 1,000 feet from any church, university, community college, school, or childcare establishment. Entry is only allowed for employees, medical cannabis cardholders, and other authorized individuals. Medical cannabis must not be seen from outside the treatment center. Medical cannabis use or consumption is not allowed on the premises.
Under SB 346, an adult-use cannabis retail company is obligated to apply to the NCDPS for an adult-use cannabis retail store license, but it can only be located in a county, city, or town that allows adult-use cannabis dispensaries. The license will authorize it to sell only to adults aged 21 and older and medical cannabis cardholders all types of cannabis and cannabis products, including but not limited to concentrates, extracts, tinctures, edible items, and ointments.
In addition to the six cannabis plants that adults aged 21 and older will be allowed to grow at home, they will be allowed to purchase the following individual possession limits at every transaction at a licensed adult-use cannabis retail store:
15 grams of adult-use cannabis concentrate
Two ounces of adult-use cannabis or its products in any form
2,000 milligrams or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in cannabis products
It is illegal to deliver medical or adult-use cannabis in Onslow County and in all counties of the State of North Carolina as of April 2023.
Under SB 3, holders of the medical cannabis supplier license from the NCDHHS will be permitted to deliver to the homes of medical cannabis cardholders the medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and medical cannabis accessories they purchased from a licensed medical cannabis treatment center.
Under SB 346, an adult-use cannabis delivery service that has been granted a license by the NCDPS will be authorized to deliver cannabis purchased from licensed cannabis retail stores to consumers aged 21 or older. The NCDPS is tasked to create the rules governing this.
There is no medical marijuana card that Onslow County residents can apply for since medical cannabis is illegal in the State of North Carolina as of April 2023.
Currently, however, the State of North Carolina’s Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act allows state-licensed neurologists to recommend the use of hemp which is derived from the cannabis plant to treat patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy that does not respond to other medicines. Hemp extracts for such use must have a THC content lower than 0.9% and a cannabidiol (CBD) content of 5% or more, according to weight.
Patients recommended for such treatment are required to have a caregiver who must print and complete the registration application and send it by mail with a valid military or state ID or state driver’s license to:
NC Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Registration
3008 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
If the application is approved, the NCDHHS Caregiver Registration letter will be sent by the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services also through the mail. The caregiver must have the letter whenever in possession of hemp extract. However, since hemp extract is also not allowed for sale in the State of North Carolina as of April 2023, the caregiver must purchase it from another state.
More information on epilepsy treatment may be sought from:
North Carolina Drug Control Unit
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday
Under SB 3, a resident of the State of North Carolina diagnosed by a qualified physician and certified in writing to have any of the following debilitating illnesses may apply for a medical cannabis card:
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Severe or persistent nausea in patients who are bedridden or medically homebound
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Sickle cell anemia
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
A condition requiring hospice care
A terminal illness with less than six months of life expectancy
Any additions by the Compassionate Use Advisory Board
SB 3 requires qualified physicians to undergo a preliminary 10-hour medical cannabis prescription course and an annual three-hour supplementary course. Documented compliance with such courses may be inspected by the North Carolina Medical Board or the NCDHHS.
The physician’s written certification on the patient’s diagnosis shall be uploaded on the NCDHHS medical cannabis registry online. It will also indicate whether the patient requires a caregiver, for which every patient is allowed to name up to two. Both the patient and the caregiver must register with the NCDHHS after the physician’s written certification has been posted. The approved medical cannabis card must be issued not later than 14 days from the date of application, with a 12-month validity period.
As of April 2023, medical and adult-use cannabis has not yet been legalized in the State of North Carolina, including Onslow County. Even with the existing Epilepsy Alternative Therapy Act of the state, the hemp extract used for treating patients must be bought from another state.
Under SB 3, a licensed medical cannabis supplier will be required to pay the NCDHHS a monthly fee that is equivalent to 10% of the gross sales of its medical cannabis and medical cannabis products.
Under SB 346, all purchases of adult-use cannabis and its products will be levied a 20% excise tax to be paid by the consumer. Moreover, every municipality is authorized to charge a local option tax of 3% on all purchases of adult-use cannabis and its products, also payable by the consumer.
Medical and adult-use cannabis is illegal in Onslow County as of April 2023.
Data from the Onslow County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that in the latest available data, in 2020, there were six marijuana offense arrests, with five for possession and one for manufacturing or sales.
There were 267 DUI arrests in 2020.