• It is legal to produce hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products in North Carolina. The hemp used must be grown by a licensed grower and grown under the state Industrial Hemp Pilot Program to be considered legal(1).
  • Using hemp extract as an alternative medicine to treat intractable epilepsy is also legal in North Carolina. If the hemp-derived product contains less than 0.9% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and at least 5% cannabidiol, it may be used as alternative medicine in the state(2).
  • It is still illegal in North Carolina to use medical marijuana and recreational marijuana(3).
  • In 2015, state lawmakers passed the North Carolina Senate Bill 313 to promote the legality of an industrial hemp industry(4). The bill was amended to specify hemp growers’ responsibilities under the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program(5).

The production of CBD products became legal in North Carolina after lawmakers passed the North Carolina Senate Bill 313 in 2015. The legislation legalized the cultivation of hemp plants under the state’s Agricultural Pilot Hemp Program(6).

The legislation was amended the following year to clarify the definition of research purposes and hemp farmer responsibilities(7).

State lawmakers also legalized the use of hemp extract as an alternative treatment for epilepsy under the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act(8).

Although there is no possession limit for CBD, hemp products sold and purchased must contain at least 5% CBD. Hemp products sold in the state must also possess less than 0.9% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)(9).

North Carolina CBD Laws

North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act

The legislation authorized the use of hemp extract as an alternative treatment for intractable epilepsy(10)

The North Carolina law defined hemp extract as an extract from a cannabis plant with less than 0.9% THC and at least 5% CBD by weight. The hemp extract must also contain no other psychoactive compounds to be considered legal.

The legislation was passed to help children in the state suffering from intractable epilepsy, for which current treatment options have been ineffective. 

Under the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) developed an Intractable Epilepsy Alternative Treatment database registry.

The database stores information and records of neurologists, caregivers, and patients.

Caregivers in the state must be at least 18 years of age and a North Carolina resident. They may be the patient’s legal guardian, parent, or custodian. 

To secure a hemp extract for a patient, the caregiver must possess a written statement confirming that the patient has been examined by a neurologist, the patient has intractable epilepsy, and the patient may benefit from using hemp extract.

The patient’s neurologist must sign the written statement to be covered by the legislation.

2015 North Carolina Senate Bill 313

The 2015 North Carolina Senate Bill 313 was passed with the aim to promote and encourage the legality of an industrial hemp industry in the state(11).

Under the legislation, the state was authorized to establish an agricultural pilot program for industrial hemp cultivation. The law allowed the state to apply for federal permits or waivers necessary to legalize industrial hemp to be grown in the state.

The law defined industrial hemp as any variety of the Cannabis sativa plant with less than 0.3% THC. The industrial hemp must also be processed by a grower licensed by the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission.

2016 North Carolina House Bill 992

The 2016 North Carolina House Bill 992 amended the 2015 North Carolina Senate Bill 313, which launched the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program(12).

The bill was passed to solidify the definition of research and licensed hemp growers’ responsibilities under the program.

With the amendment, the legislation now legalized hemp cultivation to study the following topics:

  • Marketing opportunities for hemp products to create more agricultural jobs in the state
  • Other methods of industrial hemp cultivation that promote soil conservation and restoration
  • Farming rate and methods used by licensed growers to learn more about the production of industrial hemp varieties suitable for the development of other commercial hemp products
  • Seed research on industrial hemp varieties to know which variety is best to be grown in North Carolina
  • Economic feasibility of creating an industrial hemp market
  • Potential benefits of an industrial hemp market to the state
  • Promotion of industrial hemp and hemp seed that can be grown in North Carolina
  • Securing federal or private funding for the state industrial hemp research program
  • The use of industrial hemp in new energy technologies, including electricity generation, biofuels, or other energy resources

Below is the list of roles and responsibilities that a licensed industrial hemp grower must perform under the amended legislation: 

  • Keep records that prove compliance with state laws involving industrial hemp cultivation
  • Retain a record of at least three years of industrial hemp production
  • Comply with inspection routines conducted by the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission, the State Bureau of Investigation, or other local law enforcement agencies
  • Keep an updated written agreement with a state land grant university proving that the grower is a participant of the state’s industrial hemp research program

Licensing Requirements

To be a licensed industrial hemp grower in North Carolina, an individual must apply through the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The licensing requirements below are collected from the department’s website(13).

Applicants must provide their personal information, their research purpose, and their planting information. Planting information has to include the following:

  • Size of the planting locations (in square feet)
  • The county where the applicant’s agricultural site is located
  • Global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the cultivation site
  • Intended variety of industrial hemp for planting
  • Origin of the plant to be cultivated
  • Type of certification for each variety to be planted

Applicants must also indicate which of the parts of the plant is intended for the market. Individuals must also identify the entity that planned to purchase the marketable parts. 

Applicants must also disclose any felony convictions in the past ten years. They must also disclose any drug-related or controlled substances felony convictions.

According to the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, incomplete applications may delay the application’s processing. Aspiring hemp growers may receive the approval or denial of their application by email.

Applications to the program may be made at any time during the year.

Testing Requirements

Below is the industrial hemp testing information that hemp growers in North Carolina need to know(14).

It is the growers’ responsibility to alert the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services if they plan on submitting a hemp crop sample for testing. 

An inspector begins a dialogue with the grower to sample hemp crops at appropriate maturity. Growers may only submit sample buds from the top 1/3 of the plant.

Once the grower submits their samples, the samples should be dried, ground, and homogenized (making two different insoluble liquids the same) before they are extracted and tested. Testing includes determining the exact THC content of the samples.

If the tests show that hemp crop samples have more THC than what is legal, growers may request a retest. If the samples still contain prohibited THC levels after the third retest, the crops must be destroyed.

Buying CBD Legally

Although there are no definitive laws regarding the sale of hemp-derived CBD in North Carolina, there are laws involving hemp cultivation. 

State law requires hemp growers to be licensed before handling and cultivating hemp. The crops must also have less than 0.3% THC to be considered legal under the 2015 Senate Bill 313(15).

How to Choose Which CBD Products to Buy

When looking for the best hemp-derived CBD products, buyers must look for third-party lab results, to help them determine the exact CBD concentration and potency of the product they want to buy.

Buyers must check the THC content of the product. THC is a psychoactive component of cannabis, meaning products with high THC content might get users high.

Customers should also check if the product is certified by the US Hemp Authority, which recognizes CBD brands with the best CBD products

CBD buyers must look for accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) when looking for reliable brands and high-quality CBD products. BBB collects consumer reports and accredits companies with the best business practices.

Consumer reports show that out of the 12 BBB-accredited companies in the state, only three firms have recorded customer complaints as of November 2020(16):

  • Mad CBD, Concord
  • Direct CBD Online, Charlotte
  • Green Re-Leaf, Conover

Where to Buy CBD Products Legally

Asheville

  • Blue Ridge Hemp

Blue Ridge Hemp offers hemp-derived CBD products. First-time buyers may receive a discount on purchases. The brand also offers free two- to three-day shipping on all online orders that cost over $55. 

Blue Ridge Hemp has an affiliate program for customers. The program aims to provide extra income to members through referrals and promotions. 

The shop is open all throughout the week, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Customers may visit the shop at 61 1/2 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, North Carolina, 28801.

  • Carolina Hemp Company 

A wholesale distributor of CBD products, Carolina Hemp Company provides various CBD offerings, including oils, liquids, and topicals. 

The dispensary also offers a wide range of CBD products from other CBD brands, including Green Remedy, Ecolution, Cannasmack, Hemp Co, Green Vein Kratom, and Blue Ridge Hemp.

The shop’s address is 108 Elk Park Dr, Asheville, North Carolina, 28804.

Wilmington

  • Hemp Farmacy

Hemp Farmacy offers CBD oil, hemp extract, CBD vape liquid, capsules, CBD crystals, CBD extracts, CBD dabs, topical skin treatments, and CBD pain relief patches.

The company also offers an educational program that includes free classes for people interested in learning more about hemp.

The shop is located at 117 Grace St, Wilmington, North Carolina, 28401.

Conover

  • The Magic Pipe 

The Magic Pipe offers a wide range of hemp products, including hemp oils, e-juices, premium e-juices, water pipes, and other vaping accessories.

The store is open from Mondays to Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Customers may visit The Magic Pipe at 808 Conover Blvd W, Conover, North Carolina, 28613.

Sanford

  • A1 Vapor Shop

A1 Vapor Shop is a CBD dispensary that offers a wide range of hemp and hemp-derived. The company’s inventory includes CBD oils, e-liquids, creams, and lotions. 

A1 Vapor Shop is open from Mondays to Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. You may visit the store from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays and 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Customers may drop by the store at 915 Keller-Andrews Rd, Sanford, North Carolina, 27330.

The BBB has accredited 12 CBD retailers in the state(17):

  • Charlotte CBD, Charlotte
  • Mooresville CLT CBD, Charlotte
  • Piedmont Green CBD, Concord
  • Mad CBD, Concord
  • Direct CBD Online, Charlotte
  • Green Re-Leaf, Conover
  • The Plug Distribution, Charlotte
  • iExhale Organics, Charlotte
  • Trek CBD, Holly Springs
  • The Hemp Store, Chapel Hill
  • East Coast Hemp Supply, Dunn
  • Hemp Times, Raleigh

FAQs

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol is a compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD is only one of the several cannabinoids present in cannabis.

Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. THC is the component responsible for the intoxicating effects of marijuana.

Can Doctors Legally Prescribe CBD Oil In North Carolina?

Doctors may only prescribe Epidiolex, a CBD pharmaceutical drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Epidiolex may be prescribed to patients with seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy(18).

Does CBD Show Up in a Drug Test?

Most drug tests are designed to detect THC, which may be present in CBD products, although only in trace amounts.

According to a 2017 review, drug testing cut-off values were set to avoid the possibility that trace amounts of THC may result in a positive test. This is to avoid false-positive results in drug tests(19).

Trace amounts of THC may not be detected in drug tests. However, frequent use of CBD products may increase the THC level inside the body above the cut-off values set, and result in a positive drug test.

How Does One Read CBD Labels and Packaging?

The proper way to read CBD labels and packaging involves knowing what information to look for. Below is the information that must be included in the product label:

  • Ingredients
  • Total net weight
  • Manufacturer
  • CBD concentration
  • Batch or date code
  • CBD potency
  • Supplement fact panel
  • Dosage
  • Indication that the product contains full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate

Conclusion

In North Carolina, hemp-derived CBD production is legal as long as the product is made under the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program(20).

Although CBD is legal, marijuana laws in the state still prohibit the medical use and recreational use of marijuana plants(21)

CBD has been legalized in the US at the federal level after former President Donald Trump passed the Farm Bill in 2018. The enactment of the new law marked the federal legalization of hemp and the removal of hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act(22).

However, state laws supersede federal law. The use or the production of CBD is still banned in some states(23).


  1. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2015-299. Senate Bill 313. Retrieved from https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/PDF/S313v5.pdf
  2. North Carolina General Assembly. Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act. Retrieved from https://www.ncleg.gov/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByArticle/Chapter_90/Article_5G.pdf
  3. National Conference of State Legislatures. State Medical Marijuana Laws. Retrieved from https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
  4. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2015-299. Op cit.
  5. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2016-93. House Bill. 992. Retrieved from https://www.ncleg.gov/EnactedLegislation/SessionLaws/HTML/2015-2016/SL2016-93.html
  6. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2015-299. Op cit.
  7. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2016-93. Op cit.
  8. North Carolina General Assembly. Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act. Op cit.
  9. Ibid
  10. Ibid
  11. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2015-299. Op cit.
  12. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2016-93. Op cit.
  13. North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. NC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program Application. Retrieved from https://www.ncagr.gov/hemp/application-Instructions.htm
  14. North Carolina A&T State University. Industrial Hemp in California. Retrieved from https://www.ncat.edu/caes/agricultural-research/industrial-hemp-program/hemp-conference/files/adams.pdf
  15. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2015-299. Op cit.
  16. Better Business Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/search?find_country=USA&find_latlng=35.209699%2C-80.832207&find_loc=Charlotte%2C%20NC&find_text=cbd%20oil&page=1&sort=Relevance
  17. Ibid
  18. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
  19. Moeller, K., Kissack, J., Atayee, R., & Lee, K. (2017). Clinical Interpretation of Urine Drug Tests. What Clinicians Need to Know About Urine Drug Screens. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 774-796. https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(16)30825-4/fulltext#sec2.1
  20. North Carolina General Assembly. Session Law 2015-299. Op cit.
  21. North Carolina General Assembly. Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act. Op cit.
  22. FDA. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/congressional-testimony/hemp-production-and-2018-farm-bill-07252019
  23. Hemppedia. Is CBD legal in all 50 states? – The complete 2020 Guide. Retrieved from https://hemppedia.org/cbd-oil-legal-us/
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