North Carolina Consideration of Cannabis Reform to Continue: Medical Cannabis & Hemp-Derived Products

By David M. Ullian

Feb 6, 2024

After failing to pass a medical cannabis legalization bill in 2023, the North Carolina General Assembly is expected to continue debating S.B. 3, The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act (the “NCCCA”) when it reconvenes for the legislative session in April 2024. The Senate approved the current version of the legislation in early March 2023, but the bill stalled in the House of Representatives in May 2023.   

The North Carolina Compassionate Care Act

If the current version of the NCCCA is enacted into law, it would allow registered patients with qualifying debilitating medical conditions to purchase cannabis and cannabis-infused products from licensed medical cannabis centers. The state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and a newly created Medical Cannabis Production Commission (MCPC) would be responsible for regulating and issuing licenses to ten medical cannabis suppliers that would be authorized to produce cannabis and cannabis-infused products in licensed production facilities and dispense them to registered patients through medical cannabis centers. Once licensed by the MCPC, a medical cannabis supplier would be permitted to own and operate up to eight medical cannabis centers. 

Public support for medical cannabis legalization in North Carolina is very strong, which increases the likelihood that a medical cannabis legalization bill will eventually be enacted into law. According to a Meredith poll conducted in January 2024, 78% of North Carolinians support the passage of legislation allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, including a majority of residents that self-identify as the most conservative.  

Regulation of Hemp-Derived and Kratom Products

Like many other states, the North Carolina General Assembly is also taking legislative action to regulate certain hemp-derived and kratom products that are not controlled substances under current law and are commonly offered for sale across the country. On September 21, 2023, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve HB 563, which would establish a state regulatory system for the sale and distribution of hemp-derived consumable products, including products containing cannabidiol (CBD), delta-8, and delta-10, as well as kratom products.  The bill will also likely be considered by the Senate when it reconvenes in April 2024. 

Most notably, the legislation would require a business to obtain a license from the state Department of Revenue to manufacture, distribute, or sell hemp-derived consumable products and kratom products. The bill would also require such products to be tested by an independent testing laboratory prior to distribution, establish requirements for packaging and serving sizes, and impose restrictions on advertising. Sales would be restricted to individuals 18 years of age and older, and the use of these products on school property would be prohibited.  

Contact Us!

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a call to discuss cannabis developments in North Carolina, please contact David M. Ullian at or 617-752-7148. 

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