The cultivation of medical or recreational cannabis in Union County and the rest of North Carolina is not legal as of February 2023.
The North Carolina Senate approved Senate Bill (SB) 711 on June 6, 2022. It pushed for the legalization of medical cannabis in the state. The North Carolina House of Representatives, however, did not take up the Bill. Subsequently, SB 3 was proposed in the North Carolina Senate on January 26, 2023, with the same aim. Similar to SB 711, if approved, it will be known as the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would be in charge of the Medicinal Cannabis Production Commission to be established by SB 3. Everything pertaining to medical cannabis will be regulated and licensed by the state through it. Under the Commission's medical cannabis supplier license, the licensee will be permitted to grow medical cannabis crops, make medical cannabis products, and supply medical cannabis and medical cannabis products by retail to patients and caregivers who are medical marijuana cardholders. Statewide, only ten medical cannabis supplier licenses will be released.
Applicants seeking a medicinal cannabis supplier license must have resided in North Carolina for no less than two years. They will be required to show expertise and technical and technological competencies in the following areas:
Medical marijuana planting, production, and distribution
Inventory control, quality assurance, and product innovation
Upkeep of security and safety systems to protect medical cannabis and medical cannabis products, as well as the workers and the sites
Each applicant is required to pay an extra $5,000 for each growing site in addition to the $50,000 license fee for medicinal cannabis suppliers. The costs are all non-refundable. A month before the license's 12-month term expires, it must be renewed.
The facility of a medical cannabis supplier licensee must be erected in the registered area. The licensee must have complete control and security over the facility. Only the facility's staff, approved parties aged 21 and above attended by staff, and emergency services workers will be admitted. The North Carolina DHHS and law enforcement must always have access to the facilities for inspection.
The maximum amount of time a medical cannabis supplier license holder has to start cultivating medical cannabis is 120 days after they receive their license. A laboratory licensed by the North Carolina DHHS must conduct testing on every batch of medical cannabis harvested, plant materials, and processed items. The Medical Cannabis Production Commission may do its own tests as well.
The manufacturing of medical or recreational cannabis in Union County and all of North Carolina is not legal as of February 2023.
SB 3 calls for the legalization of medical marijuana manufacturing with the condition that the manufacturer get a medical cannabis supplier license from the Medical Cannabis Production Commission of the North Carolina DHHS. The $50,000 license fee for medicinal cannabis suppliers must be increased by $5,000 for each manufacturing facility that will be run by the license holder. The licensee would then be bound to all of the directives for medical cannabis suppliers, as listed above.
The retail sale of medical or recreational cannabis in Union County and all counties of North Carolina is not illegal as of February 2023.
In the event that SB 3 is approved, every medical cannabis supplier licensee will be allowed to operate a maximum of eight medical cannabis centers, with at least one based in a county categorized as Tier 1. In addition to the $50,000 license fee for medicinal cannabis suppliers, each medical cannabis center requires a separate $5,000 payment. No later than 270 days after the licensee starts growing medical cannabis, the medical cannabis center must begin selling medical cannabis and medical cannabis products.
Only medical cannabis, medical cannabis products, and the equipment needed to administer medical marijuana will be sold at medical cannabis centers. The only people who are permitted to buy from medical cannabis centers will be registered patients and caregivers who have valid medicinal marijuana cards. Only the same registered patients and caregivers, as well as medical cannabis center workers and escorted approved visitors, will be given admission.
All the standards for medical cannabis supplier licenses that were previously outlined must be followed by the licensee. A medical marijuana center must also be located at a distance of over 1,000 feet from a place of worship, a childcare center, a community college, or a private or public school. Medical cannabis, medical cannabis items, and medical cannabis-related accessories must be kept out of sight from the outside. It will be prohibited to consume or use medicinal cannabis or medical cannabis products in the facility. Medical cannabis clinics may only sell between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Each medical cannabis center employee must do the following before completing a transaction:
With the medical cannabis registry card proffered, confirm the patient's or caregiver's identification.
Review the online register for the authenticity of the medicinal cannabis registry card.
Determine through the online registry the patient's prescription and verify that the purchase falls within the 30-day supply maximum.
Determine through the online registry the patient's prescribed medical cannabis method of administration and make certain that the sale is suitable.
Enter the following information into the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission's online verification system:
The identification number of the medical cannabis center on the registry
The names of the patient and caregiver
The time and date of the sale
The medical cannabis or medical cannabis products quantity sold
The delivery of medical or recreational cannabis in Union County and the whole of North Carolina is prohibited as of February 2023.
SB 3 would make it legal to deliver medical cannabis purchased by patients and caregivers who are medical marijuana cardholders from a licensed medical cannabis center. The guidelines for this would be developed by the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission.
No one can get a medical marijuana card in Union County because medical cannabis is still forbidden as of February 2023.
Nonetheless, the existing North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act allows application for a North Carolina DHHS Caregiver Registration letter that enables the holder to carry and use hemp extract for the treatment of qualified patients afflicted with intractable epilepsy.
The cannabis plant is also the source of hemp extract. According to the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, though, only hemp extracts having a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level below 0.9% and a cannabidiol (CBD) level of 5% or higher are permitted for possession and use on the specific illness. To get hemp extract for their patients, caregivers must look outside of North Carolina because cannabis cultivation, processing, and sale are still prohibited in the state.
A qualifying patient is one who has been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy that is resistant to other therapies by a neurologist who is lawfully licensed to practice in the State of North Carolina. Those referred to the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment program by neurologists may be of any age. Every qualifying patient necessitates the presence of a caregiver, who could either be the patient's parent, legal guardian, or custodian. In North Carolina, caregivers must be 18 years old or older and residents of the state.
The downloaded and printed Caregiver Registration Application must be filled out completely and sent to the following address with a copy of the applicant's North Carolina military ID, state ID, or driver's license:
NC Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Registration
3008 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
The approved Caregiver Registration letter will be mailed to qualifying caregivers by the North Carolina DHHS Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. The caregiver must always have the letter with them when bringing hemp extract.
Please contact the following if you have any queries or need further information:
North Carolina Drug Control Unit
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday
If SB 3 prevails, patients and caregivers who complete the following steps will be issued medical marijuana cards by the North Carolina DHHS Medical Cannabis Production Commission:
A qualified physician must issue a written certification attesting that the patient has been diagnosed to be suffering from one of the listed debilitating medical conditions for medical cannabis therapy.
To qualify, a qualified physician must pass a 10-hour medical cannabis prescription course and, for every year of providing medical cannabis written certifications for the registry, a three-hour supplement course.
The following debilitating medical conditions qualify for medical cannabis treatment in SB 3:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Sickle cell anemia
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Illnesses that need hospice care
Severe or persistent nausea in bedridden or housebound patients
Terminal illnesses with fewer than six months of life expectancy
Additional medical conditions may be identified by the Commission
Every patient must be warned by the physician of the risks of the chance of acquiring cannabis use disorder and cannabis-induced psychosis and their symptoms, and how dangerous it is to drive after using or consuming medical marijuana.
The doctor must put up the written certification on the medical cannabis registry.
Qualifying patients younger than 18 require caregivers but have a limit of two. The patient's parent, legal guardian, or custodian must be one of these. The Commission may authorize exemptions to the number of caregivers for a patient.
It is the caregiver's duty to see to it that:
Medical cannabis therapy is administered to the patient.
Medical cannabis is acquired for the patient.
The appropriate medical cannabis dose and frequency are followed.
There are no inhalation administration routes employed.
Patients and caregivers must equally pay the medical cannabis card fee of $28.
Medical cannabis registry cards will be granted only to qualified patients and caregivers.
The economy of Union County has not been impacted by medical or recreational cannabis since neither has been legalized in the State of North Carolina as of February 2023. The Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act mandates that any hemp extract used to treat patients must come from out of state.
Medical cannabis sales of licensed medical cannabis suppliers could, however, be subject to sales tax once SB 3 is passed. Furthermore, license holders will be required to pay monthly to the North Carolina DHHS a fee that is 10% of their gross sales of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products.
Medical or recreational cannabis is still illegal in Union County as of February 2023.
For future comparisons, the latest data from the Union County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page shows that in 2021, there were 23 arrests related to marijuana offenses, all of which were for marijuana possession.
There were 209 DUI arrests in 2021.