Is THC Legal in North Carolina?

North Carolina THC Overview >
North Carolina THC-O Overview >

What Is THC?

Cannabis sativa plants contain over 100 types of cannabinoids, some of which are used for recreational and medical purposes. The two most common cannabinoids in marijuana are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC has strong psychoactive effects that make a user ''high,'' whereas CBD is non-intoxicating.

Delta-9 is the most common form of THC, but there are other isomeric forms. One of them is delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol which is less intoxicating than delta-9 THC. Other known isomers of THC are delta-10-THC, delta-7-THC, delta-6a(10a)-THC, and exo-THC. Although THC is found in both cannabis and hemp plants, it is more concentrated in cannabis plants. Cannabis flowers usually have higher levels of THC than the leaves and stalks, but the seeds do not contain THC.



Is THC Legal in North Carolina?

The factor that determines whether THC is legal in North Carolina or not is its source. Under the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. The definition of marijuana in this Act includes all the parts of cannabis plants and their derivatives, including THC. Therefore, in line with Section 90.95 of the North Carolina General Statutes, it is illegal to sell or carry marijuana-derived THC products in the state. Nevertheless, per the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act (House Bill 766), marijuana products containing less than 0.9% THC are legal for medical use. Therefore, a registered medical marijuana patient may legally carry THC products in the state without legal repercussions. However, House Bill 766 did not make provisions for the establishment of marijuana dispensaries in the state. Registered medical marijuana patients can only purchase hemp-derived THC products which do not contain more than 0.3% THC.

After the US 2018 Farm Bill was signed into federal law, THC products derived from hemp plants became legal in North Carolina, provided their THC concentrations do not exceed 0.3%. As a result, North Carolina residents can legally purchase THC products from online retailers or local stores. According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), the state may introduce laws to ban smokable forms of hemp and its derivatives. Nevertheless, until such a law is passed, North Carolina residents may legally buy, sell, and use smokable THC products. State residents do not require special licenses or registration to sell hemp-derived THC products.

How Much THC is in Weed?

The THC level of weed determines its strength. Cannabis sativa plants with higher THC concentrations are more potent and usually produce more significant psychoactive effects than those with lower THC levels. Nevertheless, THC is not the only chemical compound that contributes to the psychoactive potential of cannabis. TCHA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is another component of weed that can make people high. This compound is not intoxicating in its original state, but when cannabis plants or products are dried under intense heat, THCA converts to THC. Although THCA is a precursor of THC, cannabis product manufacturers usually label the two components separately. THC compounds found in weed include delta-9 THC, THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), THCC (tetrahydrocannabiorcol), THCP (tetrahydrocannabiphorol), delta-7 THC, delta-8 THC, and delta-10 THC.

In the 1960s, cannabis plants contained only 2% of THC, but from 1992, the potency of THC in cannabis plants increased. According to a cannabis potency report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the average potency of cannabis samples seized by the DEA (the United States Drug Enforcement Agency) was about 3% in 1996. This figure increased to approximately 8% in 2005 and 15% in 2019. Some weed strains do not contain THC (0% potent), whereas others are known to have very high THC concentrations. The average THC potency of cannabis plants has steadily increased over the years due to improvements in cultivation methods. Typically, weed variants with higher THC concentrations are more expensive than the less potent ones. Some popular cannabis strains with high THC concentrations are the godfather (35% potent), Bubba Fett (27% potent), Primus OG (27% potent), and Light of Jah (26% potent). Nevertheless, the THC concentrations of cannabis plants or products can be up to 90%.

North Carolina THC Laws 2022

North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act permits registered medical marijuana patients to carry cannabis products containing less than 0.9% of THC in the state. However, the state does not allow the sale of cannabis products because marijuana is listed as a Schedule IV controlled substance in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act. Nevertheless, North Carolina residents may sell and purchase hemp-derived THC products from online and physical retail stores. THC derived from industrial hemp is legal in the state because the 2018 Farm Bill permits the sale, use, and possession of hemp products containing a maximum THC concentration of 0.3%.

What is the Legal Limit for THC While Driving in North Carolina?

According to Section 20.138.2(a) of the North Carolina General Statutes, it is an offense to drive after taking a Schedule I controlled substance or under the influence of any substance that can impair a person's physical or mental capability. Marijuana and its derivatives (such as THC) are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act. However, THC is an impairing substance. Therefore, a law enforcement officer may require blood or urine drug testing to determine the presence of THC in a driver's system. The results of such a test may be used in court. However, the state will have to prove a driver's impaired state beyond reasonable doubt since North Carolina does not have a specific legal limit for THC. Marijuana-sourced THC products containing less than 0.9% of THC are considered low-THC products under the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act. However, only registered medical marijuana patients can use low-THC products in North Carolina. Drivers who refuse drug tests risk losing their licenses.

Will THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

As stipulated in Chapter 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes, drivers in the state must submit to blood or urine drug tests at the request of law enforcement officers. THC metabolites can be detected in a person's system after they smoke or ingest a THC product. Some factors can influence the outcome of a THC drug test. They include the amount of THC product consumed, frequency of consumption, body metabolism rate, and the amount of time that has passed since last use.

How Long Does THC Stay in the Body?

Typically, THC can be detected for up to 30 days in the saliva, 90 days in the hair, 36 hours in the blood, and two days in saliva after using THC products. When a person consumes THC products, the body absorbs the THC molecules into the circulatory system. Afterward, the blood transports the THC molecules to the liver, which eliminates most of the THC molecules and metabolizes the remaining portion that eventually acts on the body's endocannabinoid receptors.

What Is THC Oil?

THC oil is sometimes mistaken for CBD oil, but they are different. CBD oil is derived from industrial hemp and primarily contains cannabidiol (CBD). On the other hand, THC oil, also known as cannabis oil, is an intoxicating product of cannabis plants. It can be added to beverages, salads, or consumed sublingually. However, THC oil is mainly consumed by vaping. THC oil is usually prepared by heating marijuana plants in edible oils like coconut or olive oil and passing the mixture through a cheesecloth to obtain the concentrated oil.

What Is THC Distillate?

When THC oil is subjected to high heating to the point of vaporization, its THC content can be collected separately from other molecules. This process is known as distillation, and it yields THC distillate which is purer than THC oil because all the non-THC compounds are entirely removed. THC distillate can be highly intoxicating when consumed and may be ingested or vaped. It is different from CBD distillate. CBD distillate contains about 80% cannabidiol and other cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabinol (CBN).

Where to Buy THC in North Carolina

THC cartridges, gummies, and other kinds of edibles are legal in North Carolina. The state does not have special licensure or registration requirements for hemp product sellers and does not restrict the sale of hemp products online. Therefore, North Carolina residents may patronize online stores or local shops to obtain delta-9 and delta-8 THC products.

THC Edibles Dosing Guide

THC Amount Expected Effects Who Should Use It?
Up to 2.5 mg Improves mental focus and mildly relieves pain and stress First-time users and microdosers
2.5 - 5 mg Provides stronger pain relief and euphoria. May impair judgment, perception, and coordination Medical marijuana patients, recreational marijuana users, and those looking to calm sleeps
5 - 10 mg Produces stronger euphoria. May also alter perception and impair coordination Users with high tolerance to THC
10 - 20 mg Very strong euphoria likely leading to higher likelihood of impaired judgment, slower reaction times, anxiety, and altered perception Users with particularly high tolerance to THC and medical marijuana patients with malabsorption syndrome (reduced gastrointestinal absorption)
50 - 100 mg Guaranteed mood and perception alteration along with impaired coordination. Likely to cause significant side effects such as pain, increased heart rate, and nausea Medical marijuana patients living with severe chronic pain, cancer, or other intractable conditions such as inflammatory disorders
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