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Is CBD Legal in North Carolina?

As the popularity of CBD (Cannabidiol) continues to soar, questions regarding its legal status in individual states have become more and more frequent. In the state of North Carolina, the subject of CBD legality has been a topic of much debate and confusion among residents, businesses, and policymakers alike.

CBD, a non-psychoactive compound derived from the hemp plant, is believed to offer a range of potential health benefits, prompting a surge in its availability in various forms – from oils and tinctures to edibles and topicals. However, the complex interplay between federal and state laws governing hemp-derived products has given rise to uncertainties about its legal standing in the Tar Heel State. This article explores the complex legal situation regarding CBD in North Carolina. We’ll shed light on the legislative developments, regulations, and key court rulings that impact the sale, possession, and use of CBD products within the state.

What you need to know about CBD laws in North Carolina

When North Carolina’s Senate Bill 313, also known as SL 2015-299 (1), was passed, the Hemp Pilot Program was set in motion, granting the Industrial Hemp Commission the authority to establish comprehensive regulations surrounding hemp, covering everything from intricate state rules to licensing systems. This legislation resulted in the following categorizations:

  1. Hemp-Derived CBD: In North Carolina, hemp-derived CBD is legal as long as the THC concentration remains below 0.3%. Should THC levels exceed this threshold, the CBD sourced from hemp is reclassified as “marijuana,” which remains illegal in the state.
  1. Non-Hemp CBD: CBD extracted from cannabis plants is considered illegal under state law due to its higher THC content, exceeding the 0.3% limit, which classifies it as marijuana rather than a hemp product. As of October 2022, recreational marijuana consumption remains unlawful in North Carolina.
  1. CBD in Food and Medicine: The Federal Food and Drug Administration classifies CBD as a drug, making it illegal nationwide to incorporate any amount of CBD into food products. Additionally, CBD cannot be marketed with medicinal claims or promoted as a treatment or supplement.

Hemp-derived CBD vs. marijuana-derived CBD

The key distinguishing factor between marijuana and hemp is their CBD and THC concentrations. Marijuana has a higher THC content, contributing to its intoxicating properties. On the other hand, hemp contains more CBD and significantly less THC—less than 1% in fact. This disparity in cannabinoid levels separates hemp from marijuana and has implications on the psychoactive effects each plant produces.

Because of its lack of THC (the “intoxicating” chemical), hemp-derived CBD oils and products are more legally available for recreational use than marijuana-derived CBD, which in many states—including North Carolina—remains illegal. 

Can you buy CBD hemp flower in North Carolina?

North Carolina has very strict laws regarding marijuana. While possession of marijuana has been decriminalized to a certain extent, recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in the state. While CBD and the plant it’s derived from (hemp) remain legal, the hemp flower looks and smells too similar to marijuana; thus, you’d be hard-pressed to find quality hemp flower in brick-and-mortar stores due to the fear of being penalized.

Can you smoke or consume CBD in public in D.C.?

There are no specific laws regarding smoking or consuming CBD in public in North Carolina, but again, CBD (that meets the parameters of being hemp-derived and with less than 0.3% THC) is legal federally, and thus it should be legal to smoke or consume CBD in public.

However, consider being cautious when smoking hemp in public in North Carolina, as you may find yourself facing criminal prosecution. Marijuana remains illegal in the state, and some law enforcement officials have difficulty telling the difference between hemp and marijuana. Understandable, given that high-quality hemp will look and smell extremely similar to marijuana.

In short: consuming CBD in public is lega, but smoking CBD flower or hemp is not recommended.

Can you bring CBD gummies and other products to North Carolina?

You can bring CBD gummies and other products, such as CBD vape cartridges, to North Carolina, as long as the CBD within these items is hemp-derived and contains no more than 0.3% THC. The CBD vape oils and products do not show up in airport scanners and will not be flagged should you bring them into the state of North Carolina. Just be sure your CBD products are from a reputable source and contain the appropriate THC levels.

Selling CBD in D.C.

The laws regarding CBD selling in North Carolina are unclear, as there are currently no laws that create specific parameters for CBD licensing, cultivation, testing, or manufacturing. 

The short answer is that it’s legal to sell CBD in North Carolina. The lack of laws does not require sellers of hemp products to acquire specific licensing or registration, and so selling CBD in North Carolina is legal as long as the CBD meets the stipulations of being hemp-derived and below 0.3% THC.

In conclusion, the legal status of CBD in North Carolina can be quite confusing due to the interplay between federal and state laws governing cannabis products. Currently, hemp-derived CBD with a THC concentration below 0.3% is legal for recreational use in the state, allowing North Carolina residents over 18 to purchase and enjoy such products without the need for a medical marijuana card.

As the landscape of CBD laws and regulations may evolve over time, it is advisable to stay informed and updated on any legislative changes to ensure compliance with the law and the safe use of CBD products in North Carolina.