CBD In North Carolina
2021 Complete Guide
Is CBD in North Carolina Legal?
NC CBD 2021
By now, most North Carolina residents know that CBD oil is legal in the state. But did you know that some of the other types of CBD products being sold in North Carolina are technically illegal? Also, did you know that anyone can apply for a license to grow their own hemp in North Carolina? If you’re planning on growing, processing, selling, or buying CBD oil and other CBD products in the state here are some tips and tricks for staying on the right side of North Carolina CBD laws.
Before we get into the nitty gritty on the rules and regulations that apply to hemp and CBD in North Carolina, let’s get clear on what exactly we’re talking about.
What, exactly, is CBD oil?
Real quick, we’ll try to get everyone up to speed. CBD is a compound produced in the cannabis plant. It stands for cannabidiol. CBD is just one of scores of similar compounds collectively known as cannabinoids. The most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, for short.
THC is the compound responsible for the intoxicating effects of marijuana. Marijuana specifically refers to the flower clusters (buds) of cultivars of cannabis that are bred specifically for medicinal and recreational use. Like THC, CBD also provides medicinal benefits. However, unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high.
Cultivars of cannabis that contain negligible amounts of THC are collectively known as hemp. There are two kinds of hemp. So-called industrial hemp — the kind used to make clothing and seeds — is very low in cannabinoids. However, marijuana breeders have developed strains that are high in CBD, but still produce less than 0.3 percent THC, and therefore fall under the legal definition of hemp. More importantly, they do not qualify as marijuana and therefore are not controlled by marijuana laws.
The flower clusters of some strains of CBD hemp produce as much as 20 percent CBD or higher. This makes the crop extremely valuable. That accounts for the meteoric rise in hemp production in North Carolina.
The evolution of North Carolina CBD laws
Retailers have been selling hemp-derived CBD oil in North Carolina since the feds semi-legalized hemp in 2014. But in 2015 the state officially legalized all hemp products. However, not one drop of hemp CBD oil was produced in the state for another few years.
Also in 2015, the state passed a medical marijuana law — albeit a weak one. The law allowed only certain patients with intractable epilepsy to use CBD oil with up to 0.9 percent THC — a negligible difference in THC levels from hemp CBD oil. Furthermore, the law did not say where medical marijuana patients were supposed to buy their medicine. Anyone who wished to purchase this product had to purchase it, essentially, illegally or buy it in a state where it’s legal and transport it into North Carolina, which is also illegal.
North Carolina’s first hemp pilot program actually kicked off In 2017 with the farming of fewer than 1,000 acres of hemp. The first harvest was actually a disaster. The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency refused to let any hemp seeds into the state. As a result, the state had to import live plants from Colorado and the 2017 harvest fell about 95 percent short of estimates.
In 2018, however, the number of hemp farmers in North Carolina increased tenfold. Before the year was out, there were more than 600 licensed hemp farmers growing 8,000 acres of hemp outdoors, plus a whopping 3.4 million square feet of indoor greenhouse space.
That same year, 2018, the federal government divorced hemp from the definition of marijuana and put the decision of whether or not to allow its cultivation into the hands of the states. This really kicked hemp production into high gear in North Carolina.
In 2019, North Carolina licensed nearly 1,000 hemp farmers and produced more than 11,572 acres of hemp and a staggering 4.5 million square feet of indoor hemp cultivation.
All seemed to be going well until a couple of wrenches got thrown into the works. First, law enforcement officials could not tell the difference between smokable hemp and marijuana. They look and smell the same. As a result, police and state attorneys called for a ban on smokable hemp in the state.
As of the time of writing it’s looking like lawmakers are, indeed, going to appease the police and outlaw the sale of smokable hemp. As a result, it’s getting harder and harder to find smokable hemp in the state. No one wants to be stuck with bud they can’t sell after the ban becomes effective.
Secondly, the US Food and Drug Agency declared that, although CBD is now legal, the use of CBD in food products and dietary supplements is still illegal. In 2019, the FDA sent warning letters to 15 companies adding CBD to food products. But, frankly, that has not stopped many shops from selling these products.
Today hundreds of North Carolina hemp processors are producing an array of hemp products including CBD oil and CBD isolate. Isolate is used to produce a variety of CBD-infused products such as CBD edibles, skin creams, vape oils and much more.
So now you have a basic understanding of what CBD oil is as well as the history of hemp laws it the state. Now let’s get into the details or North Carolina hemp CBD laws.
North Carolina Hemp CBD Oil FAQ | 2021
Is CBD oil legal in North Carolina?
Technically, yes, CBD oil is perfectly legal in North Carolina. Anyone in the state can sell or purchase CBD oil without fear of being arrested for drug possession. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get in trouble for using it.
For example, a woman in North Carolina was fired from her job for using CBD oil to treat a medical condition. Apparently, although the woman believed she was using legal CBD oil, she tested positive for THC. A judge ordered the company to hire her back because she had a doctor’s recommendation. Had she not had that, she would be out of work and out of luck.
Keep in mind, however, that North Carolina lawmakers are expected to ban smokable hemp flower in the state.
Can doctors legally prescribe CBD oil in North Carolina?
Unfortunately, no, doctors are not permitted to prescribe CBD oil. However, they are permitted to prescribe an FDA-approved pharmaceutical drug called Epidiolex, which is essentially purified CBD, for the treatment of certain cases of childhood epilepsy. North Carolina doctors can also recommend hemp CBD oil to their patients if they feel that it can lessen their symptoms. Although Epidiolex might be covered under medical insurance, CBD oil is not.
What medical conditions are being treated with CBD oil in North Carolina?
As we mentioned, only epilepsy patients with a doctor’s approval can purchase 0.9 percent THC CBD oil, and only in certain cases. And no one sells it in the state.
However, hemp CBD oil is being used by patients suffering from a wide array of conditions including epilepsy. The most common reasons people give for using CBD oil are to treat anxiety, stress, and depression, to help them sleep, and to relieve pain. But there are more than 50 medical conditions for which CBD is being studied to determine its safety and efficacy.
Here’s a partial list of medical conditions being treated with CBD oil in North Carolina:
Can I legally buy CBD oil online in North Carolina?
Sure! The great thing about buying CBD oil online, aside from the fact that you can have it delivered to your door, is that you’ll find a much larger selection of brands and products than you could find in any local store.
You should take some time to do your homework, however, because there are a lot of scammers out there taking advantage of the CBD boom. Make sure you find a reputable company that will provide lab reports showing the potency of the product. Testing also roots out batches with potential contaminants to keep them off store shelves.
What hemp CBD products are legally available in North Carolina?
As we alluded to earlier, just about any type of CBD product can be purchased in North Carolina. Whether or not they can be sold is another matter altogether.
With a CBD bud ban looming and the FDA cracking down on edibles, it’s getting harder to find smokable hemp and CBD edibles or beverages.
Here’s a list of the most common CBD products found in North Carolina:
Where can I legally buy hemp CBD oil in North Carolina?
It used to be that only smoke shops sold CBD oil, especially for vape pens. This is probably because the first people that caught onto it were people interested in marijuana.
However, the word of CBD’s health benefits has been spreading fast. And along with it, the number of places that sell CBD has been growing.
Today you can find CBD oil and other CBD products in everything from gas station convenience stores to national drugstore chains like CVS, RiteAid and Walgreens. These larger chains, however, aren’t offering any oils or edibles just yet. They do offer topicals — skin creams, balms, lotions, salves, etc.
We do not recommend that you purchase CBD oil in a gas station convenience store. Look for a reputable chain that specializes in CBD oil and has a reputation at stake.
Can I legally grow hemp in North Carolina?
Of course! But not in your backyard. You have to be a licensed farmer to grow hemp in North Carolina.
Be forewarned, however, hemp can be tricky. The amount of THC produced by a cannabis plant can vary depending on the seeds, nutrients, water, sunlight, etc. If a crop is tested and found to be above the 0.3 percent THC limit the entire crop must be destroyed.
So far at least 38 other North Carolina hemp farmers have had to destroy some crops over the past two years. One farm lost an entire greenhouse of hemp worth between $25,000 and $35,000 because it was just a few tenths of one percent too high in THC.
Is it legal to sell CBD in North Carolina?
Absolutely! Just be aware that North Caroline CBD laws are still in flux. Although you might get away with selling CBD edibles and beverages for a little while, that might not be true very much longer. The same goes for smokable hemp.
If you plan on selling CBD oil and other CBD products you would be wise to seek the counsel of an attorney experienced in North Carolina CBD laws.
Here are some helpful links to learn more about hemp CBD oil
Learn more about hemp CBD laws in North Carolina
- North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in North Carolina
- Industrial Hemp Home
- Forms and Documents
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Meeting Updates
- Application FAQs
- Industrial Hemp Processors
- Procedures for registering as a processor
- List of Registered Processors
- North Carolina Industrial Hemp Program – Registered Processors
- North Carolina State Bureau Of Investigation – Industrial Hemp/CBD Issues
- NC State Extention – Hemp Connections
- North Carolina Industrial Hemp Association
- News 3 – FDA warns North Carolina company among several others for illegally selling CBD products
- The State – Can you be fired for using CBD oil? North Carolina woman says no — and a judge agrees
- 11 Eyewitness News – North Carolina’s CBD Industry Is Blooming, But Legality Remains Hazy
- Journal Now – Will North Carolina allow more people to use CBD oil? Committee OKs bill to expand use of compound found in marijuana
- Up and Coming Weekly – The Truth about hemp and CBD and their future in North Carolina
- WRAL News – Got hemp? New regulations coming for CBD oil products
- Charlotte Observer – That trendy CBD product in your smoothie? Adding it is illegal, NC officials say
- NCDHHS – Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act
- Register as a caregiver
- Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act
- House Bill 766
- Hemp Industry Daily – North Carolina Hemp Business & Legal News
- Hemp Industry Daily – Southeast harvest preview: 98% of North Carolina and Virginia farmers planted hemp for CBD production
- Hemp Industry Daily – North Carolina lawmakers settle on 2020 for ban on smokable hemp
- Smokey Mountain News – Legislature to ban smokable hemp in N.C.
- Independent Tribune – N.C. hemp farmers struggle to meet state’s stringent standards
- North Carolina Health News – Hemp production, slowly gaining support, could hit roadblock