Cannabis cultivation for medical or adult use in Pitt County is illegal as of April 2023.
On March 1, 2023, Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) was passed by the North Carolina Senate with a vote of 36-10. As of March 6, 2023, it passed its first reading at the North Carolina House of Representatives. If enacted, it will be called the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act allowing the licensed cultivation, manufacturing, retailing, and delivery of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products to holders of medical cannabis registry cards.
On March 21, 2023, Senate Bill 346 (SB 346) was filed in the North Carolina Senate and passed its first reading on March 22. If enacted, it will be called the North Carolina Marijuana Justice and Reinvestment Act allowing the licensed cultivation, manufacturing, retailing, and delivery of adult-use cannabis and adult-use cannabis products to persons who are at least 21 years old. SB 346 Part II also proposes the legalization of medical cannabis, in case SB 3 is not enacted.
SB 3 proposes the establishment of a Medical Cannabis Production Commission under the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) as the licensing and regulating body for medical cannabis. A medical cannabis supplier license will authorize the holder to cultivate medical cannabis, manufacture medical cannabis products, and sell these by retail in dispensaries called medical cannabis treatment centers.
The majority owner of a company applying for a medical cannabis supplier license must have been a resident of North Carolina for not less than two years. A criminal background check will be done on all owners, officers, and employees. All activities of medical cannabis suppliers, including cultivation, must be done in a facility that is secure and controlled. Entry must be restricted to authorized persons only.
There will be a $50,000 initial license fee plus $5,000 for each medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, or treatment center facility to be set up by the licensee. The license is valid for a year and must be renewed not later than 30 days before its expiry. The renewal fee will be $10,000 plus $1,000 for each existing medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, or treatment center facility of the licensee and another $5,000 for every medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, or treatment center facility to be added.
SB 346 proposes that the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) be the licensing and regulatory body for adult-use cannabis. Any application for any type of adult-use cannabis business must be approved by the locality where it will be established. A locality may enact an ordinance prohibiting adult-use cannabis businesses within its territory. There shall be an application fee of not more than $5,000 in addition to licensing and renewal fees to be determined.
To cultivate cannabis commercially, a company must apply for a cannabis cultivation facility license with the NCDPS. Cannabis cultivation may be done indoors or outdoors, with the NCDPS instructed to set various tiers depending on the size of the facility and the number of cannabis plants allowed.
Under SB 346, adults aged 21 and older will be allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants at home. The cannabis cultivator must own the place or have the approval of the owner for cannabis cultivation. The growing space must be enclosed and locked, inaccessible to minors, and hidden from public view.
Medical or adult-use cannabis product manufacturing in Pitt County is illegal as of April 2023.
If SB 3 is enacted, the same medical cannabis supplier license from the NCDHHS will be required for a company to manufacture medical cannabis. The licensee must comply with the processing, packaging, and labeling instructions of SB 3.
If SB 346 is enacted, a company must apply for a cannabis product manufacturing facility license from the NCDPS and be approved by the county, city, or town to manufacture cannabis products commercially. All processing, packaging, and labeling requirements set forth by SB 346 must be complied with.
Retail selling of medical or adult-use cannabis and cannabis products in Pitt County is illegal as of April 2023.
If SB 3 is made into law, a medical cannabis supplier license will also be required from the NCDHHS for a company to sell medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and medical cannabis accessories to medical cannabis registry cardholders through a medical cannabis treatment center.
Under SB 3, a licensed medical cannabis treatment center must be more than 1,000 feet from a childcare center, school, community college, university, or church. It may operate only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Only employees, medical cannabis registry cardholders, and other authorized persons may be allowed to enter. The only items they may sell are medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and medical cannabis paraphernalia and these may only be sold to medical cannabis registry cardholders after checking their legitimacy through the online verification system to be established by the NCDHHS. Consumption or use of medical cannabis on the premises is prohibited. All medical cannabis must not be seen from outside the center.
If SB 346 is made into law, an adult-use cannabis retailer must first apply for a retail cannabis store license from the NCDPS and get approval from the locality.
Even if they are cultivating up to six cannabis plants at home, under SB 346 adults aged 21 and older may still purchase from licensed adult-use cannabis retail stores up to the individual possession limits, as follows:
Concentrated cannabis: 15 grams
Other forms of cannabis or cannabis products: two ounces
Cannabis products containing 2,000 milligrams or less of THC
The adult-use cannabis items allowed for sale include cannabis and cannabis products such as extracts, concentrates, tinctures, edible goods, and ointments, among others.
Medical or adult-use cannabis delivery in Pitt County is illegal as of April 2023.
SB 3 proposes that NCDHHS-licensed medical cannabis suppliers be allowed to deliver to the home of medical cannabis registry cardholders the medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and medical cannabis accessories they purchased.
SB 346 proposes that NCDPS-licensed cannabis delivery services be allowed to deliver to qualified consumers the allowed cannabis and cannabis products they have purchased from NCDPS-licensed cannabis retail stores. Even if a locality prohibits cannabis delivery businesses within its territory, it will not be allowed to prohibit the licensed transport of cannabis through its territory.
Since the State of North Carolina has not legalized medical cannabis as of April 2023, it is not possible for residents of Pitt County to apply for a medical marijuana card.
There is, however, a North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act that allows the use of cannabis-derived hemp to treat intractable epilepsy that is unresponsive to other medications, as diagnosed by a state-licensed neurologist. The patient referred by the doctor to the program must be assigned a caregiver who will be given the NCDHHS Caregiver Registration letter authorizing the possession of hemp extracts purchased from a different state. The allowed hemp extracts must have less than 0.9% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 5% or higher cannabidiol (CBD) content by weight. The caregiver must always carry the letter whenever in possession of hemp extracts.
A caregiver must print and complete the registration application and mail it to the following address along with a valid state driver’s license, state ID, or military ID:
NC Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Registration
3008 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
Upon approval, the caregiver letter will be sent by mail by the NCDHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.
Further inquiries may be directed to:
North Carolina Drug Control Unit
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday
SB 3 proposes the issuance of a medical marijuana registry card to any patient diagnosed and certified in writing by a qualified physician to have any of the following medical conditions:
Cachexia or wasting syndrome
Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Sickle cell anemia
Severe or persistent nausea in bedridden or medically homebound persons or related to end-of-life or hospice care
A condition resulting in hospice care
A terminal illness with a life expectancy of shorter than six months
Any other medical condition or treatment to be added by the Compassionate Use Advisory Board
A qualified physician is defined as one who has undergone a 10-hour course on medical cannabis prescription and a yearly three-hour supplemental course. The NCDHHS or the North Carolina Medical Board may inspect documentation of compliance. The qualified physician shall upload the written certification on the online medical cannabis registry to be created by the NCDHHS.
If a patient requires a caregiver, the caregiver must also be registered to receive a medical marijuana registry card. Up to two caregivers may be named by each patient.
The medical marijuana registry card will be issued 14 days or earlier from approval. It will be valid for a year.
Since medical or adult-use cannabis has not been legalized in the State of North Carolina as of April 2023, Pitt County has not benefited economically from cannabis. Under the Epilepsy Alternative Therapy Act, the hemp used to treat patients must be purchased from outside the state.
Under SB 3, a licensed supplier must pay 10% of its gross sales of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products as a monthly fee to the NCDHHS.
Under SB 346, all sales of adult-use cannabis and cannabis products are subject to a 20% excise tax charged to the purchaser. In addition, a municipality may levy a 3% local option tax on all sales of adult-use cannabis and cannabis products within its territory, also charged to the consumer.
Cannabis for medical or adult use is illegal in Pitt County as of April 2023.
As a baseline, the latest data from the Pitt County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that in 2021, there were 26 marijuana offense arrests, with 20 for possession and six for manufacturing or sales. There were 22 DUI arrests in the same year.