North Carolina Cannabis Legalization

Medical: Not currently legal. Several bills have been introduced in recent years, but none have been passed into law. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation passed a tribal ordinance for medical and recreational cannabis in 2021, but it’s still awaiting implementation.
Recreational: Not currently legal. Similar to medical, bills have been proposed, but no successful legislation exists.

Current NC Cannabis Laws:

  • Possession: Both medical and recreational possession are illegal, punishable by fines and potential jail time depending on the quantity.
  • Public consumption: Prohibited for both medical and recreational use, punishable by a fine.
  • Driving: Operating a vehicle under the influence of cannabis is a DUI regardless of medical authorization.
  • Sales: Growing, distributing, selling, and possessing cannabis are all illegal, regardless of medical or recreational purpose.

Cannabis Job Prospects in NC:

  • Limited opportunities currently. Due to the lack of legal cannabis programs, job opportunities in the industry are scarce in North Carolina.
  • Potential future growth: If medical or recreational legalization passes, the job market could see significant expansion across various sectors, including cultivation, processing, testing, retail, and more.
  • Focus on neighboring states: For now, individuals interested in cannabis careers may need to look to neighboring states with established programs, such as Virginia or Maryland.
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North Carolina Cannabis FAQs:

Is CBD Legal in North Carolina?

No, CBD is not illegal in North Carolina as long as it meets certain requirements:

  • Source: The CBD must be derived from hemp, not marijuana. Hemp is defined as a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive component that produces the “high” associated with marijuana.
  • THC content: The actual CBD product, whether it’s oil, gummies, cream, etc., must also have a THC content below 0.3%.

Therefore, hemp-derived CBD with a THC content below 0.3% is completely legal to purchase, possess, and use in North Carolina.

Here are some additional points to keep in mind:

  • Marijuana-derived CBD: CBD derived from marijuana, which typically has higher THC levels, is still illegal in North Carolina.
  • Regulation: While legal, CBD is not yet heavily regulated in North Carolina. Be sure to purchase your CBD from reputable sources that can provide you with lab testing results to verify the THC content.

Employment: Even though CBD is legal, some employers may still have policies against its use.

Is recreational cannabis legal in North Carolina?

No, recreational cannabis is not legal in North Carolina. Possessing, using, or selling marijuana (cannabis with THC content exceeding 0.3%) is still illegal throughout the state. Penalties for recreational cannabis use can range from fines and misdemeanor charges to felony charges depending on the amount possessed and intent.

However, there are some caveats:

  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians: On tribal lands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, recreational cannabis was voted legal in a tribal referendum in June 2023. These lands are the only place in North Carolina where recreational cannabis is currently legal.
  • Hemp-derived products: Certain hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% THC, such as CBD oil and delta-8 THC, are legal and widely available in North Carolina. However, these products do not produce the same psychoactive effects as recreational cannabis.

Here’s a summary of the current legal situation:

  • Recreational cannabis: Illegal throughout the state (except on Cherokee tribal lands).
  • Hemp-derived CBD: Legal if THC content is below 0.3%.
  • Delta-8 THC: Legal in a gray area due to legal ambiguity, but its legality may be challenged in the future.

It’s important to stay informed about the evolving legal landscape surrounding cannabis in North Carolina. Remember, possessing or using recreational cannabis outside of Cherokee tribal lands remains illegal and can have legal consequences.

How do I become a registered hemp grower in North Carolina?

As of 2023, North Carolina no longer operates its own hemp grower registration program. The state transitioned to the federal USDA Hemp Production Program in 2021. This means you’ll need to apply for a license through the USDA to grow hemp in North Carolina.

Here’s how you can become a registered hemp grower in North Carolina:

1. Gather information:

2. Prepare your application:

3. Submit your application:

  • Log in to HeMP and follow the instructions for applying for a USDA hemp production license.
  • Be sure to:
    • Designate your hemp lots carefully and accurately (each lot will be sampled and tested separately).
    • Pay any applicable fees (fees may vary depending on your situation).

4. Wait for processing:

  • USDA processing times can vary, but it may take several weeks to receive a decision on your application.
  • Once approved, you will receive a license and be able to start growing hemp in North Carolina.

Additional resources:


  • Comply with all USDA regulations and requirements.
  • Maintain accurate records of your hemp production.
  • Get tested for THC content regularly.
  • Stay informed about updates to the USDA Hemp Production Program and any relevant state regulations.

Additional Resources:

Remember: Cannabis laws in North Carolina are still evolving, and it’s crucial to stay informed about the latest developments. The resources listed above can help you stay updated.

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