Despite recent efforts to improve marijuana policy in North Carolina, the state’s cannabis laws are among the most restrictive in the nation.
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 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 “CBD only” bill, House Bill 1220, into law on July 3, 2014. Like most other cannabidiol laws, it gives only intractable epilepsy patients access to the extracts. The bill further states that the CBD oil must contain at least 5% cannabidiol (CBD) and less than 0.9% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The bill does not contain any provisions to produce or distribute the 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 983, was introduced in April 2016, but the legislative session ended with the bill remaining in the Committee on Health.
CBD from Hemp Oil in North Carolina
Consumption of CBD hemp oil is federally legal, as CBD hemp oil falls under the same importation and commerce laws as other hemp products. However, North Carolina enacted legislation specifically relating to hemp oil, so it is unclear whether the state’s law would protect those not registered with the state’s medical program.
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.
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