It is legal to produce CBD products in North Carolina. The hemp used must be grown by a licensed grower under the state Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. Marijuana, Hemp, and CBD – Frequently Asked Questions The legality is marijuana is currently a hot topic and important question. Although North Carolina remains hesitant to reform, various states RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – North Carolina will once again ban hemp and CBD in North Carolina on July 1 as the bill to permanently legalize them sits in Senate’s rules committee. That is, unless lawmakers move quickly. The state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 455, which would permanently legalize hemp and CBD, on May 5. […]
Is CBD Oil Legal in North Carolina? – August 2022
The production of CBD products became legal in North Carolina after lawmakers passed the North Carolina Senate Bill 313 in 2015. The legislation legalized the cultivation of hemp plants under the state’s Agricultural Pilot Hemp Program (6) .
The legislation was amended the following year to clarify the definition of research purposes and hemp farmer responsibilities (7) .
State lawmakers also legalized the use of hemp extract as an alternative treatment for epilepsy under the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act (8) .
Although there is no possession limit for CBD, hemp products sold and purchased must contain at least 5% CBD. Hemp products sold in the state must also possess less than 0.9% tetrahydrocannabinol ( THC ) (9) .
North Carolina CBD Laws
North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act
The legislation authorized the use of hemp extract as an alternative treatment for intractable epilepsy (10) .
The North Carolina law defined hemp extract as an extract from a cannabis plant with less than 0.9% THC and at least 5% CBD by weight. The hemp extract must also contain no other psychoactive compounds to be considered legal.
The legislation was passed to help children in the state suffering from intractable epilepsy, for which current treatment options have been ineffective.
Under the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act , the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) developed an Intractable Epilepsy Alternative Treatment database registry.
The database stores information and records of neurologists, caregivers , and patients.
Caregivers in the state must be at least 18 years of age and a North Carolina resident. They may be the patient’s legal guardian, parent, or custodian.
To secure a hemp extract for a patient, the caregiver must possess a written statement confirming that the patient has been examined by a neurologist, the patient has intractable epilepsy , and the patient may benefit from using hemp extract .
The patient’s neurologist must sign the written statement to be covered by the legislation.
2015 North Carolina Senate Bill 313
The 2015 North Carolina Senate Bill 313 was passed with the aim to promote and encourage the legality of an industrial hemp industry in the state (11) .
Under the legislation, the state was authorized to establish an agricultural pilot program for industrial hemp cultivation. The law allowed the state to apply for federal permits or waivers necessary to legalize industrial hemp to be grown in the state.
The law defined industrial hemp as any variety of the Cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3% THC. The industrial hemp must also be processed by a grower licensed by the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission.
2016 North Carolina House Bill 992
The 2016 North Carolina House Bill 992 amended the 2015 North Carolina Senate Bill 313, which launched the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program (12) .
The bill was passed to solidify the definition of research and licensed hemp growers’ responsibilities under the program.
With the amendment, the legislation now legalized hemp cultivation to study the following topics:
- Marketing opportunities for hemp products to create more agricultural jobs in the state
- Other methods of industrial hemp cultivation that promote soil conservation and restoration
- Farming rate and methods used by licensed growers to learn more about the production of industrial hemp varieties suitable for the development of other commercial hemp products
- Seed research on industrial hemp varieties to know which variety is best to be grown in North Carolina
- Economic feasibility of creating an industrial hemp market
- Potential benefits of an industrial hemp market to the state
- Promotion of industrial hemp and hemp seed that can be grown in North Carolina
- Securing federal or private funding for the state industrial hemp research program
- The use of industrial hemp in new energy technologies, including electricity generation, biofuels, or other energy resources
Below is the list of roles and responsibilities that a licensed industrial hemp grower must perform under the amended legislation:
- Keep records that prove compliance with state laws involving industrial hemp cultivation
- Retain a record of at least three years of industrial hemp production
- Comply with inspection routines conducted by the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission, the State Bureau of Investigation, or other local law enforcement agencies
- Keep an updated written agreement with a state land grant university proving that the grower is a participant of the state’s industrial hemp research program
To be a licensed industrial hemp grower in North Carolina , an individual must apply through the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The licensing requirements below are collected from the department’s website (13) .
Applicants must provide their personal information, their research purpose, and their planting information. Planting information has to include the following:
- Size of the planting locations (in square feet)
- The county where the applicant’s agricultural site is located
- Global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the cultivation site
- Intended variety of industrial hemp for planting
- Origin of the plant to be cultivated
- Type of certification for each variety to be planted
Applicants must also indicate which of the parts of the plant is intended for the market. Individuals must also identify the entity that planned to purchase the marketable parts.
Applicants must also disclose any felony convictions in the past ten years. They must also disclose any drug-related or controlled substances felony convictions.
According to the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, incomplete applications may delay the application’s processing. Aspiring hemp growers may receive the approval or denial of their application by email.
Applications to the program may be made at any time during the year.
Below is the industrial hemp testing information that hemp growers in North Carolina need to know (14) .
It is the growers’ responsibility to alert the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services if they plan on submitting a hemp crop sample for testing.
An inspector begins a dialogue with the grower to sample hemp crops at appropriate maturity. Growers may only submit sample buds from the top 1/3 of the plant.
Once the grower submits their samples, the samples should be dried, ground, and homogenized (making two different insoluble liquids the same) before they are extracted and tested. Testing includes determining the exact THC content of the samples.
If the tests show that hemp crop samples have more THC than what is legal, growers may request a retest. If the samples still contain prohibited THC levels after the third retest, the crops must be destroyed.
Buying CBD Legally
Although there are no definitive laws regarding the sale of hemp-derived CBD in North Carolina, there are laws involving hemp cultivation.
State law requires hemp growers to be licensed before handling and cultivating hemp. The crops must also have less than 0.3% THC to be considered legal under the 2015 Senate Bill 313 (15) .
How to Choose Which CBD Products to Buy
When looking for the best hemp-derived CBD products , buyers must look for third-party lab results, to help them determine the exact CBD concentration and potency of the product they want to buy.
Buyers must check the THC content of the product. THC is a psychoactive component of cannabis , meaning products with high THC content might get users high.
Customers should also check if the product is certified by the US Hemp Authority, which recognizes CBD brands with the best CBD products .
CBD buyers must look for accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) when looking for reliable brands and high-quality CBD products . BBB collects consumer reports and accredits companies with the best business practices.
Consumer reports show that out of the 12 BBB-accredited companies in the state, only three firms have recorded customer complaints as of November 2020 (16) :
- Mad CBD, Concord
- Direct CBD Online, Charlotte
- Green Re-Leaf, Conover
Where to Buy CBD Products Legally
- Blue Ridge Hemp
Blue Ridge Hemp offers hemp-derived CBD products . First-time buyers may receive a discount on purchases. The brand also offers free two- to three-day shipping on all online orders that cost over $55.
Blue Ridge Hemp has an affiliate program for customers. The program aims to provide extra income to members through referrals and promotions.
The shop is open all throughout the week, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Customers may visit the shop at 61 1/2 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, North Carolina , 28801.
- Carolina Hemp Company
A wholesale distributor of CBD products , Carolina Hemp Company provides various CBD offerings, including oils, liquids, and topicals.
The dispensary also offers a wide range of CBD products from other CBD brands, including Green Remedy, Ecolution, Cannasmack, Hemp Co, Green Vein Kratom, and Blue Ridge Hemp.
The shop’s address is 108 Elk Park Dr, Asheville, North Carolina , 28804.
- Hemp Farmacy
Hemp Farmacy offers CBD oil , hemp extract , CBD vape liquid, capsules, CBD crystals, CBD extracts, CBD dabs, topical skin treatments, and CBD pain relief patches.
The company also offers an educational program that includes free classes for people interested in learning more about hemp.
The shop is located at 117 Grace St, Wilmington, North Carolina , 28401.
- The Magic Pipe
The Magic Pipe offers a wide range of hemp products , including hemp oils , e-juices, premium e-juices, water pipes, and other vaping accessories.
The store is open from Mondays to Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Customers may visit The Magic Pipe at 808 Conover Blvd W, Conover, North Carolina , 28613.
- A1 Vapor Shop
A1 Vapor Shop is a CBD dispensary that offers a wide range of hemp and hemp-derived. The company’s inventory includes CBD oils , e-liquids, creams, and lotions.
A1 Vapor Shop is open from Mondays to Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. You may visit the store from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays and 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sundays.
Customers may drop by the store at 915 Keller-Andrews Rd, Sanford, North Carolina , 27330.
The BBB has accredited 12 CBD retailers in the state (17) :
- Charlotte CBD, Charlotte
- Mooresville CLT CBD, Charlotte
- Piedmont Green CBD, Concord
- Mad CBD, Concord
- Direct CBD Online, Charlotte
- Green Re-Leaf, Conover
- The Plug Distribution, Charlotte
- iExhale Organics, Charlotte
- Trek CBD, Holly Springs
- The Hemp Store, Chapel Hill
- East Coast Hemp Supply, Dunn
- Hemp Times, Raleigh
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol is a compound found in the cannabis plant . CBD is only one of the several cannabinoids present in cannabis .
Unlike THC , CBD is non-psychoactive. THC is the component responsible for the intoxicating effects of marijuana.
Can Doctors Legally Prescribe CBD Oil In North Carolina?
Doctors may only prescribe Epidiolex, a CBD pharmaceutical drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ). Epidiolex may be prescribed to patients with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy (18) .
Does CBD Show Up in a Drug Test?
Most drug tests are designed to detect THC , which may be present in CBD products , although only in trace amounts.
According to a 2017 review, drug testing cut-off values were set to avoid the possibility that trace amounts of THC may result in a positive test. This is to avoid false-positive results in drug tests (19) .
Trace amounts of THC may not be detected in drug tests. However, frequent use of CBD products may increase the THC level inside the body above the cut-off values set, and result in a positive drug test.
How Does One Read CBD Labels and Packaging?
The proper way to read CBD labels and packaging involves knowing what information to look for. Below is the information that must be included in the product label:
- Total net weight
- CBD concentration
- Batch or date code
- CBD potency
- Supplement fact panel
- Indication that the product contains full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate
In North Carolina , hemp-derived CBD production is legal as long as the product is made under the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program (20) .
Although CBD is legal, marijuana laws in the state still prohibit the medical use and recreational use of marijuana plants (21) .
CBD has been legalized in the US at the federal level after former President Donald Trump passed the Farm Bill in 2018. The enactment of the new law marked the federal legalization of hemp and the removal of hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (22) .
However, state laws supersede federal law . The use or the production of CBD is still banned in some states (23) .
Marijuana, Hemp, and CBD – Frequently Asked Questions
The legality is marijuana is currently a hot topic and important question. Although North Carolina remains hesitant to reform, various states have implemented wide ranging legalization laws. Additionally, federal legalization was proposed in the US House for the first time recently and is thought to be a topic for review with the new incoming administration. Also, with the recent passage of federal and North Carolina law permitting the growth, processing, shipment, and sale of hemp and hemp derivatives, there are a growing number of questions related to the legality of cannabis. Our attorneys routinely represent individuals charged with criminal marijuana offenses as well as businesses engaged in the lawful sale of hemp products. The following FAQs are intended to help individuals understand the differences between marijuana and hemp and what is permissible and impermissible in North Carolina.
What are the different marijuana possession charges in North Carolina?
As a reminder, marijuana and hemp are both cannabis. However, marijuana and hemp are different varieties of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. As a general matter and without getting into the specifics of testing methods, hemp must contain 0.3% or less total Tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”). Hemp is a legal agricultural commodity. Marijuana is an illegal controlled substance under both North Carolina and federal law.
Under North Carolina law, individuals can be charged with:
- Misdemeanor possession of marijuana (less than 1.5 oz)
- Felony Possession of Marijuana (1.5 oz – 10lbs; one-twentieth of an ounce of marijuana resin extract (hash, wax, shatter, vape, etc.) or any amount of synthetic THC)
- Felony Possession with Intent to Sell and/or Deliver
- Felony Trafficking of Marijuana (more than 10 pounds)
Marijuana remains an illegal federal controlled substance as well. Federal marijuana misdemeanor and felony prosecution applies for offenses committed on federal property, including the Capitol grounds and the mall within DC, as well as all national parks and military property nationwide, and other land under federal control. Federal marijuana laws also apply to offenses involving interstate commerce and importation from other countries.
How will I be punished for selling marijuana?
It depends whether you are charged in state or federal court and how much marijuana you are charged with selling. The following lists provide helpful guidance.
North Carolina Possession Sentences
- Less than 0.5 oz: Class 3 misdemeanor subject to a fine up to $200, probation, or up to 20 days in jail/
- 0.5 – 1.5 oz: Class 1 misdemeanor subject to a fine in the court’s discretion, probation, or up to 120 days in jail.
- 1.5 oz – 10 lbs; one-twentieth of an ounce of marijuana resin extract or any amount of synthetic THC: Class I felony charge subject to a fine, probation, or up to 24 months in jail.
North Carolina Marijuana Sale/Trafficking Sentences
- 10-50 lbs: Class H felony punishable by 25-30 months in jail, and/or $5,000 fine.
- 50-2,000 lbs: Class G felony punishable by 25-42 months, and/or $25,000 fine.
- 2,000-10,000 lbs: Class F felony punishable by 70-84 months and/or $50,000 fine.
- Over 10,000 lbs: Class D felony punishable by 175-219 months in jail, and/or $200,000 fine.
- Selling within 1,000 feet of a school, child care or park: Class E felony punishable by up to 88 months in jail.
- Selling to age 13 – 16 or someone who is pregnant: Class D felony punishable by up to 204 months in jail.
- Selling to age 13 and under: Class C felony charge punishable by up to 231 months in jail.
Federal Marijuana Possession Sentences
Possession of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. For a second conviction, the penalties increase to a 15-day mandatory minimum sentence with a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent convictions carry a 90-day mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Federal Marijuana Distribution Sentences
Distribution of a small amount of marijuana, without payment, is treated as possession. Manufacture or distribution of less than 50 plants or 50 kilograms of marijuana is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. For 50-99 plants or 50-99 kilograms the penalty increases to not more than 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million if an individual, $5 million if other than an individual for the first offense. Manufacture or distribution of 100-999 plants or 100-999 kilograms carries a penalty of 5 – 40 years in prison and a fine of $2-$5 Million. For 1000 plants or 1000 kilograms or more, the penalty increases to 10 years – life in prison and a fine of $4-$10 Million.
Is hemp legal in North Carolina?
Yes, subject to very specific regulations. In order to be legal, hemp and hemp products (including CBD) must contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the active ingredient in marijuana that creates the feeling of being high. Subject to certain administrative licensing and registration requirements through the North Carolina hemp pilot program and federal rules released by the USDA as well as the FDA, it is legal to cultivate, process, transport, sell, and possess hemp and hemp products.
Is CBD legal in North Carolina?
Yes. Cannabidiol (“CBD”) and other cannabinoids (excluding THC) derived from hemp are legal in North Carolina. Proponents of CBD products claim an array of health benefits including treatment for seizures, arthritis, pain-relief, and anxiety all without the impairing effect of THC. CBD is often infused in cosmetic products like lip balms and oils, added to foods (although CBD containing foods are not currently permissible per FDA guidelines) like honey and gummies, and is even contained in an FDA approved drug, Epidiolex, which is used to treat epilepsy.
Are THC vapes legal in North Carolina?
No. Vaping and cartridges or using other forms of marijuana resin extract (hash, wax, dabs, shatter, etc.) in other ways is illegal in North Carolina and is punishable as a felony for possession of more than one-twentieth of an ounce.
If hemp is legal, will I be protected against employment drug testing?
Yes. Or at least you should be under the Lawful Use of Lawful Products, N.C.G.S. § 95-28.2. This law prohibits employers from refusing to hire, terminating, or otherwise discrimination against a candidate or employee who engages or has engaged in the lawful use of lawful products off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours and the use does not adversely affect the employee’s job performance or the safety of other employees.
Since hemp is now a legal substance under both federal and state law, employees who use hemp products during nonworking hours off the employer’s premises arguably fall under this law’s protection. Although hemp and CBD contain low levels of THC, the permissible trace amounts of THC may be enough to result in a positive drug test. The problem facing employers and employees is that a positive THC test is generally unable to distinguish between illegal marijuana use and legal use of hemp and hemp products.
Can I grow hemp in my backyard?
No. Under state and federal laws, industrial hemp growers must be issued a license to participate in the industrial hemp pilot program. The Industrial Hemp Commission is responsible for developing rules and regulations for participating in the program.
How much CBD is legal?
While NC hemp license holders are required to report acreage, weight, type, and storage locations to the Hemp Commission, there is not currently any state or federal prohibition on the amount of hemp or CBD an individual may possess as long as other licensing, registration, and other applicable administrative reporting requirements are met.
How will police know if the hemp or CBD product is legal?
Unfortunately, individuals using hemp and CBD products may find themselves facing criminal prosecution. Although the use and possession of hemp and CBD is not illegal, law enforcement officials sometimes have a hard time telling the difference between hemp and marijuana which is still illegal in all forms in North Carolina. The confusion is understandable given that hemp flower, which can be smoked by CBD users, looks and even smells like marijuana. Further, even though hemp and CBD products can contain only 0.3% or less total THC, these low levels can still test positive on a police officer’s field test. Hemp users should also be concerned that drug tests may return a positive result.
Because legal hemp and CBD are very new to the market, police officers may not yet be trained on distinguishing the difference between hemp and marijuana. Until that happens we can reasonably expect to see a rise in the number of arrests and prosecution of individuals and businesses that use or sell hemp products. It is in your interest the have a criminal defense attorney experienced in this specific area of the law.
Can my hemp products be seized by law enforcement?
It is certainly possible. As discussed above, law enforcement has an understandably difficult time distinguishing between illegal marijuana and legal hemp and hemp derivative products. Our firm has seen situations were police have seized permissible hemp products mistakenly believe them to be contraband. In those situations, your best course of action is to get an attorney involved who understands the issues. There are a number of best practices our firm has helped clients implement to help prevent this type of situation from occurring. Among other preventative measures, it is recommended that you have on hand any product label, or certificate of analysis for any hemp or hemp-derived product when you are in possession of these items in public places to show a law enforcement officer if you are stopped or the product is confiscated.
What if I was charged with a crime because of CBD in North Carolina?
Contact a criminal defense attorney experienced with hemp and CBD issues. The attorneys at Dysart Willis Houchin & Hubbard are available 24/7 to talk to you about your case and how we can help.
North Carolina ban on CBD, hemp goes into effect Friday as bill sits in limbo
RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – North Carolina will once again ban hemp and CBD in North Carolina on July 1 as the bill to permanently legalize them sits in Senate’s rules committee. That is, unless lawmakers move quickly.
The state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 455, which would permanently legalize hemp and CBD, on May 5. The House was not totally behind the hemp bill, passing it by a vote of 86-25 on June 1. Among those 25 N.C. House Republicans voting nay were House Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Sarah Stevens, who represents Surry, Wilkes and Alleghany counties, Rep. John Faircloth of Guilford County, Pat Hurley of Randolph County and Ben Moss of Montgomery County.
The last stamp of approval needed was Gov. Roy Coopers, but, before it could get there, the bill was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate where it has stayed since June 2.
North Carolina introduced the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in 2015 after hemp farming became legal under federal law in 2014. Since then, about 1,500 hemp growers and more than 1,200 processors in North Carolina have set up in the Tar Heel State. But, as the name implies, North Carolina has looked at this as a temporary pilot program, and it’s scheduled to end Thursday, June 30.
An earlier version of the 2022 Farm Act included text that would have legalized hemp and CBD, but that text was stripped out of it in the House’s revised bill introduced on June 22. SB 455, a separate bill, was first introduced in April 2021 and has since gotten approval from both the state Senate and House before it was referred to the Senate Rules Committee where it has been since June 2.
SB 455 would redefine the difference between hemp and marijuana. Hemp is described as being cannabis that has 0.3% less Delta-9, which is the chemical that makes a marijuana user high. The bill would have also permanently removed hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances. There are 31 other states in which hemp is decriminalized, as North Carolina does for now.
The bill would allow farmers to continue to grow hemp as a foundation for the fiber found in rope and garments and other products but also for the CBD products, such as oils, vapes and other consumables. The difference is that these products are very low in intoxicants, such as THC, and serve more to soothe people than to make them high.
Law enforcement officials had opposed this law, wanting hemp and marijuana to remain illegal, but Eddie Caldwell of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, which has long led the opposition, told WRAL TV that his group does not have a position on the law.
“We will be following it and consulting with the association leadership if it continues moving through the legislative process,” Caldwell said.
A WGHP/The Hill/Emerson College Poll found that a majority of North Carolinians support some form of legalized marijuana. That poll, conducted in April among registered voters, found that 68% of respondents support the legalization of medical marijuana, and 19% said it should not be legal. North Carolina is one of only six states that don’t allow medical marijuana.