JUNE 20, 2024


In what was ostensibly a bill to impose restrictions on intoxicating hemp products, the North Carolina legislature has revived its previous efforts to authorize medical marijuana consumption and sales within the state. 

After failing to garner enough support last session, North Carolina has again taken aim at providing access to medical marijuana to certain qualifying citizens in the state. Yesterday, a voluminous Senate committee amendment, entitled the “North Carolina Compassionate Care Act,” to House Bill 563 proposed to make North Carolina the 39th state in the nation with a legal, regulated medical marijuana market. Like the dozens of other states that have come before it, North Carolina would propose to limit sales of medical marijuana to individuals with certain qualifying conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and other debilitating medical conditions. Each prospective medical patient would be required to obtain a registry identification card based on a medical diagnosis and written certification from a North Carolina physician in good standing. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services would administer the state’s Compassionate Use Program.

Regarding licensure, the Compassionate Care Act envisions a vertically integrated market in which “suppliers” would be licensed to cultivate cannabis and own and operate one or more medical cannabis centers and own and operate one or more production facilities. The Compassionate Care Act defines a “medical cannabis center” as a “facility owned by a supplier that possesses and dispenses cannabis and cannabis-infused products to registered patients.” Finally, the Compassionate Care Act would establish a Medical Cannabis Production Commission, which would have the power to approve applications for medical cannabis supplier licenses upon recommendation of the Department. Mechanically, the Department would be authorized to evaluate applications based on criteria set forth in the Compassionate Care Act and then submit a list of 20 recommended applicants to the Commission. The Commission would then be authorized to approve 10 licenses.

Also noteworthy is H.B. 563’s treatment of hemp-derived cannabinoids and hemp-derived consumable products, which, in some respects, tracks the well-known loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill that has led to the proliferation of consumable hemp products in interstate commerce and the corresponding explosion of a largely unregulated intoxicating hemp industry in the U.S. Estimates as to the current size of this domestic industry vary, though many credible sources value the market at well in excess of $20 billion.

Mirroring the key provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, H.B. 563 defines consumable hemp products as “A hemp product that is a finished good intended for human ingestion or inhalation that contains a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis….” Critically, the bill includes specific prohibitions on the sales of such products within the state, including prohibitions on sales to individuals under the age of 21, sales in or on a public street, sidewalk, or park, and sales at retail or online establishments of any consumable hemp products that are not in compliance with certain packaging, advertising, and dosage limitations. With respect to dosage, the bill would impose the following limitations:

  • For non-liquid ingestible (i.e., not intended for inhalation) hemp-derived consumable products, servings would be limited to no more than 25 milligrams, in the aggregate, of one or more of Delta-7 THC, Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC and Delta-10 THC.
  • For liquid ingestible hemp-derived consumable products, servings would be limited to no more than 10 milligrams, in the aggregate, of one or more of Delta-7 THC, Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC and Delta-10 THC.
  • For inhalable hemp-derived consumable products, containers would be limited to no more than 3 milliliters, in the aggregate, of one or more of Delta-7 THC, Delta-8 THC. Delta-9 THC and Delta-10 THC.

We will continue to monitor this bill as it progresses.

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Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
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William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

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Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

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