Which Cannabis substances are legal and illegal in NC?

Which Cannabis substances are legal and illegal in NC?

Navigating the Legality of Cannabis in North Carolina: A Comprehensive Guide.

As in other parts of the U.S., it is illegal to possess, sell or smoke marijuana in North Carolina, but there are a few cannabis-based substances that you are allowed to have in the state.

In 2018, hemp became legal nationwide as part of the federal Farm Bill. North Carolina state law also allows any cannabis product sourced from hemp with less than a .3% delta-9 THC concentration.

“All of that, hemp and marijuana, is all the same plant. It’s all cannabis sativa. There’s no difference. The only difference is the levels of cannabinoids within them,” Phil Dixon, the Public Defense Education director at the UNC School of Government, previously said in a blog post.

In North Carolina, the rules for what’s legal — in terms of marijuana and hemp — are tied to the concentration of delta-9 THC. If it has more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC, it’s considered illegal marijuana, Dixon says. Anything with less than that amount is considered hemp.

So how do the legal products compare to what’s illegal? Here’s a breakdown of some of the substances that are and aren’t allowed in North Carolina.


CBD, formally known as cannabidiol, is a compound found in marijuana, but it does not cause a high, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Since the passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act, CBD — which can be sourced from hemp or non-hemp plants — has been commonly marketed in foods, oils, lotions, capsules, cosmetics and other products.

According to the CDC, research is still being done to learn more about how CBD affects the body, but warns that liver damage, drowsiness, diarrhea, plus changes in appetite and mood are some of the potential side effects that you could experience when using CBD.

“There is a lot we do not know about CBD. Currently, we do not know how CBD use affects a person over time,” the CDC’s website says. “We also do not know how different modes of CBD use (smoking, vaping, eating, applying to skin, etc.) affect a person.”


Similar to CBD, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is another cannabinoid found in marijuana, but this one the CDC describes as “impairing or mind-altering.”

“THC is the substance that’s primarily responsible for the effects of marijuana on a person’s mental state,” the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says. “Some cannabis plants contain very little THC. Under U.S. law, these plants are considered ‘industrial hemp’ rather than marijuana.”

There are different types of THC, The News & Observer previously reported, like delta-8 THC, delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC. Even though delta-8 and delta-10 are less potent than delta-9, the legality of the substances is a little unclear, depending on how much THC is actually in a product or if it’s synthetic, which is also illegal. But even what the state counts as synthetic also isn’t clear, Dixon told The Observer.


Marijuana, the dried flowers, leaves, stems and seeds of the cannabis plant, contains more than 100 cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, the CDC says.

The substance is commonly smoked in joints, blunts, bongs and electronic vapes, or made into foods and drinks as edibles. It is legalized for medical purposes in more than half of U.S. states.

But health officials say the drug can impact people differently based on several different factors, including a person’s genetics, previous drug history and how the drug is taken. So while more states are legalizing it for medical purposes, there’s still a lot of work being done to learn about its benefits and risks.

“For example, smoked marijuana may damage your lungs and respiratory system. Certain compounds in marijuana products may affect your brain or body in harmful ways,” the CDC’s website says. “Research on the medical use of marijuana is still in early stages, and much remains unknown about the plant and how it interacts with the body.“

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Region: North Carolina

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