How To Open A Dispensary In North Carolina


Are you looking for information on how to open a dispensary in North Carolina? This page will keep you informed on the latest news and information about the cannabis industry in the state. This includes valuable insights about what will come in the following several months.

On August 26, 2021, Senate Health Care Committee members voted in favor of Senate Bill 711, which would legalize marijuana, bringing the legislation another step closer to the floor. This happened two days after the Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the measure. 

A number of hearings on the measure have been conducted in the Senate in mid-2021. However, during the fourth week of September 2021, lawmakers said the bill might not be put to vote until 2022 since the state budget and redistricting process have risen to the top of the list of concerns. Those lobbying for it to pass believe there are still some concerns that need resolving. Republican Senate leader Phil Berger indicated that the bill might not be on the Senate floor until legislators return to Raleigh during the next spring session.

The state is seeing an increase in support for marijuana legalization. Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly have openly stated that they want to reform the marijuana regulations. In addition, the results of a study done by Elon University revealed that 54 percent of people in North Carolina favor legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, while 73 percent support making marijuana available for medicinal purposes.

We anticipate that additional information about legalization, regulations and the application procedure will soon become available. As this additional information becomes available, we will update this page with the relevant information. Here’s what you need to know right now.

How big is the opportunity? 

Based on average excise tax projections and the number of people who use marijuana, the Tax Foundation anticipates North Carolina may receive $182,947,622 in annual excise tax revenue.

Medical Marijuana Program Opportunities

Cannabis is still illegal in North Carolina for any purpose other than extremely restricted medicinal use. In 2014, the Hope for Haley and Friends Act was introduced. To treat epileptic patients, the bill, which was named after a child who suffered from seizures, advocated the use of marijuana extracts as a treatment option. This was passed into law as HB766 in 2015 and permits persons suffering from intractable epilepsy to utilize hemp extract, which is an oil extracted from marijuana that does not have any psychoactive effects, to treat their condition.  

As previously stated, the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana in the state are currently pending. 

Senators Bill Rabon (R), Michael Lee (R), and Paul Lowe (D) have sponsored Senate Bill 711, which would establish the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act. Under the proposed legislation, individuals suffering from qualifying debilitating medical illnesses would be able to register to use and securely acquire medicinal cannabis via a controlled medical cannabis supply system. 

Currently, qualifying debilitating medical conditions listed to include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, and PTSD. You may refer to the bill for a complete list of conditions and information.

Medical Cannabis Supplier Licensing

Only ten medical cannabis supplier licenses would be authorized to manufacture or sell medicinal marijuana products within the state. Each licensee would be allowed to operate a maximum of four medical cannabis centers.

Applicants for medical cannabis suppliers must show evidence of state residency for at least two years, majority ownership, and five years of expertise in a medicinal or adult-use cannabis business. Nonresident partners with relevant expertise may also apply.

Application Fees & Registration Costs

Medical cannabis suppliers must pay a $50,000 nonrefundable application fee and an additional $5,000 for each production site or medical cannabis center to be considered for a license.

Per year, there is a renewal license fee of less than $10,000, with an additional $1,000 per production site or medical cannabis center. 

Suppliers would be required to get a registration identity card, which costs $250 for each director and employee of the company.

Who is responsible for the regulation of cannabis in North Carolina?

SB 711 creates the Compassionate Use Advisory Board, composed of 11 individuals. The Board would consider applications for the addition of new qualifying conditions. 

Senate Bill 711 would create an eleven-member Medical Cannabis Production Commission. Among its responsibilities are establishing criteria and conditions for licensing suppliers, the manufacture of cannabis, and the effective regulation of medical cannabis centers and cannabis production facilities managed by suppliers.

Upon recommendation of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Commission holds the authority to grant license applications for medical cannabis suppliers. The Commission would issue ten medical cannabis supplier licenses to businesses that may each operate up to four dispensaries according to the proposed rules and regulations.

In addition, the Department would set criteria for and authorize up to five independent testing laboratories under the terms of the bill.

Recreational Use Legalization

Lawmakers in North Carolina have filed legislation to make it legal for adults to use marijuana. Adults would be permitted to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and 15 grams of concentrates and cultivate up to six marijuana plants for personal use under HB 576, HB 617, and SB 646.

The bills set requirements and procedures for how cannabis businesses must be registered and licensed and how they can run. Additionally, the provisions would permit automatic expungement of prior convictions for any crimes deemed lawful by this bill. It would establish an Office of Social Equity to encourage involvement by persons from groups that have historically been disproportionately disadvantaged by marijuana prohibition to benefit those communities.

As North Carolina continues to develop its cannabis program and as events unfold that will impact when and how marijuana legalization will occur, we will keep you informed of any pertinent news regarding the establishment of a dispensary in North Carolina. By subscribing to our North Carolina Cannabis Mailing List (Below), we will keep you informed of any relevant and not-so-easy-to-find information and news about North Carolina Legalization. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • What are the most recent developments regarding the legalization of cannabis in North Carolina?
  • When will applications for new cannabis licenses be available?
  • What special programs will be offered?
  • And more 

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