North Carolina Marijuana Laws
Updated September 2019
Despite recent efforts to improve marijuana policy in North Carolina, the state’s cannabis laws are among the most restrictive in the nation. Learn more about North Carolina marijuana laws below.
Recreational Marijuana in North Carolina
Prior to the waves of legalization and decriminalization in the United States over the last several years, North Carolina was one of the more lenient states when it came to penalties for marijuana possession.
Possession of 0.5 ounces or less of marijuana is a Class 3 misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum fine of $200. Possession of 0.5 to 1.5 ounces is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 45 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Possession of more than 1.5 ounces is a Class 1 felony offense, punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine.
Crimes involving the sale, delivery, the intent to distribute, or cultivation are also felonies.
Medical Marijuana in North Carolina
There is currently no comprehensive medical marijuana policy in North Carolina.
North Carolina did sign a low-THC medical cannabis bill, House Bill 1220, into law on July 3, 2014. Like most other restrictive medical cannabis laws, it gives only intractable epilepsy patients access to the extracts. The bill further states that cannabis oil must contain less than 0.9% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The bill does not contain any provisions to produce or distribute cannabis oil within the state.
The state legislature has introduced multiple medical marijuana bills, none have gained significant traction or been signed into law. The most recent medical marijuana bill in North Carolina, House Bill 401, was introduced in March 2019, but it has yet to make it through committee.
CBD from Hemp Oil in North Carolina
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in North Carolina
Cultivating cannabis for personal or medical purposes is illegal in North Carolina. The state prosecutes cannabis cultivation as a felony, with even cultivation of small amounts leading to as much as 8 months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
On October 30, 2015, a bill legalizing industrial hemp cultivation became law despite not receiving the signature of Governor Pat McCroy. Under Senate Bill 313, a new industrial hemp commission will manage the commercial growers and researchers of the statewide program.
Legal Status of Other U.S. States
Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.
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NC Marijuana Laws
Updated on May 11, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
North Carolina Medical Marijuana Laws
Medical marijuana laws in North Carolina allow patients suffering from severe epilepsy to access cannabidiol (CBD) oil to find relief from symptoms. However, efforts to broaden access to patients suffering from other conditions have so far proved unsuccessful. As a result, the vast majority of people in the state are unable to legally use this gentle, effective form of medicine.
North Carolina Marijuana Law Update
There are currently efforts to expand current laws to serve those with autism, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, mitochondrial disease, and a few other conditions, but that hasn’t happened yet.
A state representative introduced a comprehensive medical marijuana bill in the North Carolina legislature in 2015. It would have granted people throughout the state suffering from a variety of medical conditions access to legal cannabis as long as they had a doctor’s recommendation. They would be free from both arrest and prosecution. The bill also called for a controlled system of cultivating, producing and distributing medical cannabis so patients would have a safe, reliable source of relief.
However, the bill would die in the state’s House Judiciary Committee, and it received no further consideration as a result.
The state did make a small step forward in 2014 when it first allowed patients suffering from “intractable” epilepsy to obtain CBD oil to address their symptoms. It was an extremely restrictive program, however, limiting access to the extract. Under North Carolina marijuana law, patients could only obtain CBD from neurologists affiliated with four specific universities — Wake Forest University, East Carolina University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 2016, however, a bill was passed that would allow any doctor in the state who is board certified in neurology and affiliated with a North Carolina-licensed hospital, to recommend CBD. The law also slightly increased the amounts of THC and CBD that would be allowed. This raised the minimum amount of CBD content by weight from five percent to 10 percent, and the amount of allowable THC from .3 percent to .9 percent. What didn’t change was the fact that only people suffering from severe epilepsy can access CBD.
A sunset clause was included in the law. According to this clause, CBD oil would once again become illegal in the state if, by 2021, studies fail to prove it provides therapeutic benefits.
In February 2017, the North Carolina Medical Cannabis Act was introduced. This bill would establish a registry and medical marijuana program.
North Carolina significantly reduced the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana in 1977. However, even a first offender could still be subject to a suspended jail sentence and would be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a civil infraction. The fine for a first offense is a maximum of $200. Anyone caught with .5 to 1.5 ounces of weed is subject to anywhere from one to 45 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If someone is convicted of possessing anywhere from 1.5 ounces to 10 pounds, they face three to eight months in jail as well as a discretionary fine.
Find more information about medical marijuana laws in North Carolina. Learn more about local policies and regulations from Marijuana Doctors.