The State of Cannabis Legislation & Licensing: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida

Cannabis Business Licensing in North Carolina

The following is a summary of marijuana legislation and cannabis business licensing in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, as of July 2019.

Recently, Jimmy Buffett partnered with Surterra Wellness on a cannabis brand called Coral Reefer (also the name of his touring band). Concentrates, vape pens and cartridges are all part of the line, with names like Surfin’ in a Hurricane and Seas the Day. They include a vape pen that reportedly looks like a mini surfboard.

Mr. Buffett, known for “island escapism” music, joins the list of celebrities launching MMJ products, brands and partnerships including actor Seth Rogen, lifestyle celebrity Martha Stewart, director Francis Ford Coppola, former boxer Mike Tyson, country star Willie Nelson, Canadian comedians the Trailer Park Boys, comedian Tommy Chong, actress Whoopi Goldberg, and rappers the Wu-Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg.

Will you be first in line to try one of these iconic cannabis products? Keep reading for the latest in marijuana legislation and cannabis business licensing in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Cannabis Business Licensing in North Carolina

Cannabis is illegal for recreational and most medical uses in North Carolina. Non-psychoactive cannabis is essentially legalized but only special seeds of very specific low THC strains (industrial hemp). Licensing must be purchased from the state. Cannabis extracts must contain less than nine-tenths of one percent of THC and at least five percent CBD by weight. CBD oil is legal for use in North Carolina only by persons with intractable epilepsy.  The North Carolina House Agriculture Committee approved a bill with a ban on smokable hemp starting in December.

The state does not have or allow a regulated system for cultivation, production, or dispensing of CBD products. A neurologist must be affiliated with an in-state licensed hospital to obtain the medicine. North Carolina hemp accepts applications continuously to cultivate industrial hemp as a research pilot. Approved applicants, prior to being issued a license must pay a $250 initial fee in addition to an annual fee of $250 for less than 50 acres or $500 for more than 50 acres, as well as a $2/acre or $2/1,000 sf of greenhouse fee. With the exception of the initial fee, all other fees are due on an annual basis.

Cannabis Business Licensing in South Carolina

Cannabis is illegal for recreational and medical purposes in South Carolina, but the use of low-THC CBD oil is allowed for adults and children with Dravet Syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Refractory epilepsy if recommended by a physician. Cannabis extracts that contain more than 15 percent of cannabidiol and no more than nine-tenths of one percent or less of THC are the only allowance. The law does not permit home cultivation or a state-regulated dispensary system.

South Carolina is currently accepting license applications for hemp processors but not for marijuana businesses. An application fee of $100 and a license fee of $3,000 is required and required to be paid prior to operation. Growers have an application fee of $50 and a license fee of $500 is required and required to be paid prior to operation. Per law, 40 permit holders (40 acres each) will be allowed as part of a research program.

Cannabis Business Licensing in Georgia

Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in Georgia but decriminalized in Atlanta, Savannah, Clarkston, South Fulton, Forest Park, Kingsland and Macon-Bibb counties. Limited medical use is allowed in the form of cannabis oil containing less than 5% THC for specific conditions. CBD oil derived from hemp is legal for all individuals to possess, but low-THC oil derived from marijuana is only legal for medically qualified individuals.

Georgia House Bill 324 outlines that the commission may also issue a Class 1 Production License through an application process open to the general public. A Class 1 Production License authorizes a licensee to:

  • Grow cannabis only in indoor facilities for use in producing low THC oil, limited to 100,000 square feet of cultivation space
  • Manufacture low THC oil

The commission shall issue two (2) Class 1 production licenses. A Class 1 Production License requires a non-refundable application fee of $25,000, an initial license fee of $200,000 and a license renewal fee of $100,000.

New law in Georgia allows for six growing licenses to be granted to private companies – two for larger organizations and four for smaller businesses.

Cannabis Business Licensing in Florida

Cannabis is legal in Florida for medical use only. State-qualified patients suffering from cancer, muscle spasms, and seizures may possess cannabis strains containing 10 percent or more of CBD, and no more than eight-tenths of one percent of THC. Terminally ill patients may possess strains higher in THC, but these strains must be obtained from a state-licensed producer/dispensary. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill recently allowing the CBD drug Epidioloex. Possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis is decriminalized in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Tampa, and Orlando.

A new Florida hemp law took effect on July 1st but is pending review and approval of program submissions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Florida aims to position itself as a national leader in agricultural hemp after a federal farm bill passed in 2018, giving states the opportunity to develop their own industry. 

The South Miami City Commission adopted a resolution endorsing marijuana legalization. Additionally, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced the members of her newly created advisory committee will advance Florida’s medical cannabis policies, which could potentially bolster MMJ business in the state. The 18-member committee, which includes several of the state’s cannabis industry executives, will meet bi-monthly to work to improve patient access, technology, innovation and other facets of the booming industry.

In spring 2019, eight medical marijuana operators were added to the 14 businesses currently selling cannabis throughout Florida at medical marijuana treatment centers, known as MMTCs. Florida is no longer currently accepting applications for dispensaries, growers, or cultivators.

Learn and Network at THE Cannabis Expo

Keeping up to date with cannabis business licensing in North Carolina and all of the southern states requires full-time attention and connections within a variety of industries tied to marijuana. CannaCon is your key to working smarter! As a cannabis expo plus an MMJ trade show and hemp event CannaCon provides a  wide range of speakers, products, and information. Register today to join us for CannaCon South in Oklahoma City Sept. 27-28, 2019.

Interested in other states?

Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio

Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota

New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut

Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts

North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas

Cannabis Business Licensing South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia & Florida


  1. Sandra Kearse on March 24, 2021 at 11:01 am

    If I receive my license in South Carolina or North Carolina is it valid in either state or do I have to do individual applications?

    • Dave Carter on December 3, 2021 at 5:08 pm

      As a formerly licensed grower in NC (licenses have expired and we renew next year), I can say that you need a license per State to be legal. In some States you need a license for each location you grow. It pays to do a lot of research before committing big $ to any grow project. We learned this without too much pain and slowed our growth a bit. This enabled us to expand our CBD shop operations significantly in NC while preparing for the next wave of licensing requirements.

  2. Cherish Williamson on August 17, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    Do I need any specific license if my company just wants to sell legally?

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