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North Carolina Marijuana Laws

Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated July 15, 2020

Last updated 11/1/2019

The possession or sale of marijuana is typically charged as a much less-severe crime than for other illicit drugs in most states, including North Carolina. While the state does not offer exemptions for medical use, North Carolina marijuana laws have mostly decriminalized its possession, which carries a maximum $200 fine for possessing less than one-half ounce. In fact, it doesn’t become a felony charge unless the defendant is in possession of at least 1.5 ounces.

Efforts to Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use

In 2014, the Hope for Haley and Friends bill was proposed in North Carolina. The bill, named after a six-year-old girl who sufferedВ from seizures, proposed the use of marijuana extracts to help treat epileptic patients. This was signed into law in 2015 as HB766 and allows individuals with intractable epilepsy to use cannabidiol, or CBD (oil derived from a strain of marijuana without psychoactive effects) to treat seizures.

However, the use is so limited that many medical marijuana advocates do not think North Carolina can be counted amongst the states that authorize medical marijuana. They view the legislation as largely symbolic, but other scholars think that it could be viewed as the initial steps to legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

There have been numerous efforts to legalize marijuana for medical use in North Carolina, but they have not been successful. In 2014, a medical marijuana bill was introduced, but it was killed by the House Committee in 2015. The House Committee even delivered an “unfavorable report” which prevented the House from considering bills consisting of medical marijuana elements for two consecutive years. The issue resurfaced again in 2017 with additional medical marijuana bills, but they were blocked by the General Assembly.

The basic provisions of North Carolina’s marijuana laws are listed below. See FindLaw’s Drug Charges section to learn more.

Code Section 90-86, et seq.
Possession Less than 0.5 oz: misdemeanor, $200 fine; 0.5 – 1.5 oz: 1-45 days in jail, $1,000 fine; 1.5 oz. – 10 lbs: felony, 3-8 mos. in jail, $1,000 fine.
Sale Class I felony but not when under 5 g. for no consideration
Trafficking 10-50 lbs.: Class H felony, 25-30 mos. and/or $5000; 50-2000 lbs.: Class G felony, 35-42 mos. and/or $25,000; 2000-10,000 lbs.: Class F felony, 70-84 mos. and/or $50,000; Over 10,000 lbs.: Class D felony, 175-219 mos. and/or $200,000

Note: State laws are constantly changing — contact a North Carolina drug crime attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • North Carolina Law
  • Official State Codes – Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

North Carolina Marijuana Laws: Related Resources

Facing Cannabis Charges? A North Carolina Attorney Can Help

Marijuana laws are in a constant state of flux in the United States. Some states allow recreational use, while other only allow medicinal use. Still others ban the herb completely. Confused about your rights? You don’t need to be. You can learn about North Carolina’s marijuana laws by contacting a defense attorney with experience handling drug crimes.В

Visit FindLaw.com for a chart providing the details of North Carolina Marijuana Laws.

North Carolina Marijuana Information

Quick FAQs

In North Carolina, both medical and recreational cannabis are illegal. However, marijuana has been decriminalized, so first time offenders will not be jailed for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possession of up to 0.5 ounces is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $200.

Although North Carolina is not considered a medical cannabis-approved state, it is legal for a very specific set of patients to have medical marijuana. In 2014, Governor Pat McCrory signed the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act into law, which allows individuals with intractable epilepsy to possess and use hemp extracts that contain at least 5% CBD and less than 0.9% THC. Patients who qualify must purchase the cannabis in a medical marijuana state that allows out-of-state patients, as North Carolina does not produce any cannabis or hemp products. The access of medical marijuana is so prohibitive that the state isn’t considered to have legalized medical marijuana.

Though many previous rounds of medical marijuana legislation have failed, many are hopeful about House Bill 983 passing. The bill is focused on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, and if passed, would allow a number of certified physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness. The Bill needs to pass in the House Health Committee before moving on to be passed in the House. If passed, recreational marijuana use will still be illegal in the state.

Kush encourages discretion for all travelers. If you do partake, don’t drive while high – you can be convicted of a DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana in North Carolina. If you find yourself in a pinch with the law, check out our North Carolina Cannabis Lawyers page for help!

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North Carolina FAQ

Is Marijuana legal in North Carolina?

Currently, marijuana, for both medical and recreational uses, is not legal in North Carolina. House Bill 983, which would legalize marijuana for medical purposes, is currently in the House, awaiting review.

The exception is patients with epilepsy: under the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, medical patients with epilepsy are permitted to possess and use hemp extracts that contain at least 5% CBD and less than 0.9% THC to treat their condition.

Where can I buy marijuana?

There are currently no legal outlets in North Carolina where residents can purchase marijuana or marijuana products. If you are a patient with epilepsy who qualifies under the North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act, you must obtain the hemp extracts from a medical marijuana state that permits out-of-state patients.

How can I help legalize marijuana in North Carolina?

Residents of North Carolina can help get marijuana legalized in their state by writing to their state legislators and urging them to legalize marijuana.

How much will it cost if it is legalized?

The price of marijuana will vary based on strain and quality, and it will also be dependent on what the tax rate is. You can expect prices to be between $10 to $30 per gram. If Bill 983 is passed, marijuana will be taxed $8 per ounce.

What types of marijuana will the stores sell?

This is all dependent on the specific law that ends up being passed in North Carolina, but in general, this is an overview of what stores in states with legalized marijuana carry. You will see a number of different flower strains categorized by their strains ranging from strong Indicas to strong Sativas and everything in between. Each strain can have different effects so be sure to ask the budtender for assistance in choosing the best marijuana for you. Strong Sativas strains are known for their general uplifting, energizing, and head high effects while Indicas are known for their full body highs and sedative effects.

Dispensaries will also sell a number of other types of marijuana products, including but not limited to:

  • Concentrates: essential oils of the cannabis plant. Warning: these can be very potent!
  • Edibles: Cannabis infused foods, candies, or drinks. Warning: These can be very potent! Be sure to check the serving size before enjoying and remember the effects can take up to an hour to hit you.
  • Transdermal Products (Topicals): creams, lotions, massage oils and such infused with cannabis. These products are not psychoactive and will not get you high.
  • Seeds: seeds that can be used to grow your own marijuana plants. Stores will have many different strains of Indicas and Sativas.
  • Clones: healthy seedlings that are ready be grown.

What is the punishment if I’m caught with marijuana?

Marijuana has been decriminalized in North Carolina. Possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $200. Possession of 1/2 ounce to 1½ ounces can earn up to 45 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If you find yourself in a pinch with the law, check out our North Carolina Cannabis Lawyers page for help!

If marijuana gets legalized, can I still get in trouble?

Yes. You can always get in trouble at the federal level, even if marijuana gets legalized in North Carolina. Be sure to always follow the laws of the state you are in, and state authorities will have no issues with you.

Nothing on this website should be considered legal advice or as a substitute for legal advice. Please respect the current state of Marijuana law in your area.

Is Recreational Cannabis legal in North Carolina? Can I buy Medical Marijuana in North Carolina? Are there any Dispensaries in North Carolina? Click here to