December 09, 2020 6 min read

A U.S. map showing North Carolina and surrounding states

North Carolina hopped on the hemp train soon after the 2018 Farm Bill became law, but the state has altered its hemp legislation multiple times in recent years.

Hemp is legal, but is CBD legal in North Carolina? And can you access it without a medical cannabis card?

Technically, yes, CBD products are legal in the state if they meet restrictions laid out by North Carolina law.

Still, some products, like smokable hemp products, are still prohibited. Others may be poorly regulated since North Carolina CBD laws fail to implement strict quality regulations.

Before you buy CBD in North Carolina, here are the details you need to know:

Table of Contents
Legal Concerns About CBD
What are the CBD laws in North Carolina?
Is full spectrum CBD legal in North Carolina?
Does North Carolina have a CBD possession limit?
Can doctors prescribe CBD in North Carolina?
Where to buy CBD in North Carolina?
Legal age to buy CBD in North Carolina?
Is CBD legal in all 50 states?
Resources

Disclaimer: We’re always working to stay informed on the latest CBD laws and research. However, state laws are subject to change and we advise that you do your own research to verify the information you find in this article. This is not intended as legal advice.

Key Takeaways

  • North Carolina’s CBD and hemp laws have changed multiple times, and some things are still unclear. Most products seem to be legal in the state, with the exception of smokable hemp products and foods that are “federally prohibited.”
  • The state has a medical cannabis program in which citizens can access cannabis-derived CBD, but you do not need a prescription to get hemp-derived CBD in the state.
  • The state does impose some regulations that affect growers and manufacturers, but there are very few regulations regarding quality.
  • In order to ensure that the products you choose are safe and potent, you may consider shopping online. Many online CBD brands ship legal CBD products to North Carolina to buyers aged 18 and up.

Legal Concerns About CBD

It’s true that CBD gained its federal legal status in 2018. The Hemp Farming Act effectively removed industrial hemp and its natural derivatives (like cannabinoids) from the Controlled Substances Act.

But there’s a catch, and it complicates things:

Legal CBD products must come from industrial hemp.

This classification is designated to hemp material that meets a strict set of standards. The most significant is that it contains less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. If CBD products are made from any cannabis strain that contains more than 0.3% THC, it is not a federally legal product.

That’s not all—

The final product must contain less than 0.3% THC, too.

That means that even if a brand starts with legal hemp material, they need to carry out careful manufacturing procedures to produce a legal end product. It’s possible for certain cannabinoids to be “concentrated” during the extraction process, leading to higher THC concentrations than in the original material. Proper manufacturing and careful testing need to be employed to avoid this issue.

Because there is very little regulation in the CBD industry, it’s important to evaluate a brand carefully before you buy. It can be hard to tell if a CBD product is made from a legal hemp source and meets the federal guidelines for legal hemp products. The best way to ensure that your CBD products are legal is by checking the third-party lab tests for cannabinoid potency.

Of course, these regulations only apply on a federal scale. You must also ensure that your products meet the standards laid out by federal guidelines and those set by your state.

Two bottles filled with CBD oil, a legal dosing option available online for North Carolina residents.

 

What are the CBD laws in North Carolina?

North Carolina originally imposed strict regulations on hemp agriculture in the state. After the 2014 Farm Bill, the state allowed only a few licenses to be granted under a limited Hemp Pilot program. This limited bill mainly focused on hemp for research purposes and did not yet make CBD accessible in the state.

In 2019, the state amended this program with the passage of SB 315, informally known as the North Carolina Farm Bill. The new laws redefined hemp and CBD, making both more accessible across the state. According to state laws, CBD is the non-psychoactive material derived from hemp, so long as it is free of plant material and contains less than 0.3% THC.

The bill encourages and laid the structure for hemp agriculture and marketing across the state. It also specifically clarified the types of hemp materials that are legal, including:

  • Fabrics and material fiber
  • Cosmetics and topicals
  • Paint
  • Building materials
  • Personal care products
  • Food for human, pet, or livestock consumption unless federally prohibited
  • Oils
  • Tinctures
  • Vapor products
  • Smokable hemp

Later the bill was amended to remove smokable hemp products from the list of approved products. This is in line with laws laid out by other states who have banned smokable CBD products, like Georgia, Texas, and Iowa.

The bill still includes language to legalize hemp edibles that are "not federally prohibited." To date, the FDA has not clarified their stance on CBD as a food ingredient, leaving this law open to confusing interpretation.

Many people suggest that CBD edibles are legal in the state, while other companies are operating more cautiously. There are no penalties defined for consumers who purchase CBD edibles, so long as they meet the requirements of a hemp product and cannot be classified as cannabis.

Is full spectrum CBD legal in North Carolina?

It’s easy to assume that CBD isolate is legal in many places since it contains no THC, but many consumers are worried that the trace amounts of THC found in full-spectrum CBD products may cause trouble in states where cannabis is illegal. Luckily, North Carolina has no laws restricting full spectrum CBD products that contain 0.3% THC or less.

Does North Carolina have a CBD possession limit?

North Carolina has not set possession limits for hemp-derived CBD products. Products that contain more than 0.3% THC or are derived from cannabis and not hemp are only accessible through the state’s medical program. Cannabis products are subject to different possession limits.

Can doctors prescribe CBD in North Carolina?

You don’t need a prescription to get CBD in North Carolina. In fact, doctors typically cannot “prescribe” CBD products that are sold over the counter, rather they may “recommend” them. Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, access usually requires a doctor’s recommendation, not a prescription.

CBD is still new, and only one CBD product has been approved by the FDA to date. This product, GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, is designed to treat rare forms of childhood epilepsy. Aside from this product (which comes with stringent usage guidelines), many doctors are still learning about CBD. If you’re interested in the benefits of CBD, you may need to spark a conversation with your doctor.

Where to buy CBD in North Carolina?

A handful of CBd softgels, which may be difficult to find in stores in North Carolina due to unclear laws.

In general, North Carolina allows licensed growers and vendors to sell most forms of hemp-derived CBD throughout the state. You may find hemp CBD products in grocery stores, convenience stores, and more.

However, North Carolina’s CBD regulations usually target THC content, and the state does very little to regulate product quality. These low standards can put consumers at risk.

Buying CBD online is a suitable option for most consumers. When you buy CBD online directly from the brand, you get better oversight of the brand’s manufacturing practices. Looking at the brand’s hemp source and lab testing procedures can help ensure that the CBD products you choose are clean, potent, and meet legal guidelines.

Buying CBD directly from a brand instead of from a third-party market may also be less costly since you won’t have to pay the extra fees that are often tacked on by the middle man. Of course, premium CBD can be expensive to manufacture, so you should also be wary of products that offer low-ball prices.

Finally, buying CBD online may be the best way to access many different types of CBD. The most common type of CBD product is an oil tincture, but you can find a variety of CBD edibles, topicals, and other specialty products when you shop online.

For more information on how to find high-quality CBD products, check out our CBD Buyer’s Guide.

Legal age to buy CBD in North Carolina?

In theory, CBD should be accessible to people of all ages, especially since it gained its popularity as a treatment for various childhood illnesses. Of course, some products may not be suitable for people of all ages, like smokable hemp flower or CBD vaporizers.

Still, the legal age to buy CBD is unclear, often on both the state and federal level. Although there are no statewide laws in North Carolina that impact purchasing age, laws may vary by local jurisdiction, but generally, the minimum age for purchase is decided by the vendor. The legal age for buying tobacco has been increased to 21, and it's possible that most CBD vendors will require buyers to meet this minimum age requirement as well.

Many CBD brands allow customers who are 18 or older to order online and will ship legal CBD products to North Carolina.

Is CBD legal in all 50 states?

Thanks to federal updates, CBD has the potential to be legal in every U.S. state. CBD is legal in North Carolina, but every state has different regulations regarding the manufacture and sale of CBD. Click here to find out where CBD is legal.

Resources

  1. “Hemp Farming Act of 2018” https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/5485
  2. “GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA SESSION 2015” https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/PDF/S313v5.pdf
  3. “Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in North Carolina” https://www.ncagr.gov/hemp/

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