What if a Nurse Tests Positive for THC in North Carolina?

A nurse who tests positive for THC in North Carolina can face potential investigation and discipline by the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON), even if the nurse ingested a substance containing THC (like marijuana) legally in another jurisdiction or used a legal product like CBD.

The NCBON takes the position that any positive test for THC violates the state’s Nursing Practices Act and may lead to the suspension or termination of the nurse’s license or other legal consequences.

If you are a licensed North Carolina nurse who recently tested positive for THC, contact a nursing professional license defense attorney at Remington & Dixon, PLLC immediately. Your rights and livelihood could be at risk. A skilled lawyer can protect them and work to shield you from potentially severe punishments.

THC Possession and Use Are Illegal in North Carolina

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. Possession and use of products containing more than trace amounts of THC — such as marijuana, THC vape cartridges, edibles like pot brownies and gummies, and THC oil — is currently illegal in North Carolina, even if you obtained the products legally in another state.

The penalties for violating North Carolina THC laws include fines, probation, or imprisonment, depending on the amount possessed.

It is not illegal in North Carolina to use or possess products containing cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp, which may contain trace amounts of THC. But as explained below, the legal use of CBD products does not excuse testing positive for THC as a nurse in North Carolina.

The North Carolina legislature has recently considered bills to legalize marijuana-derived THC products for medical or recreational use. As of May 2023, however, those measures have not become law.

NCBON Treats a Positive THC Test as a Violation

The North Carolina Nursing Practices Act (NPA) governs nurse licensing and practice in the state. The text of the NPA does not explicitly prohibit nurses from using products containing THC. But it does give the NCBON broad power to set professional nursing standards and discipline those who violate them.

The NCBON takes a hard-line view regarding a licensed nurse testing positive for THC. It treats any failed drug test — regardless of its cause — as a violation of the NPA that subjects a nurse to investigation and potential discipline.

Recent rulings and guidance from the NCBON reflect that a licensed North Carolina nurse can face professional sanctions for a positive THC result even if the nurse reasonably explains it.

For example, according to the NCBON, it’s no excuse for the nurse to have used THC products legally in another state, consumed legal CBD containing trace amounts of THC, or smoked marijuana before becoming licensed (if the positive test came back after the license was issued).

NCBON Has Broad Disciplinary Powers

The NPA authorizes the NCBON to take various disciplinary measures against an offending nurse, including:

  • Placing the nurse on probation, with or without conditions
  • Imposing limitations and conditions on the nurse’s practice or access to patients
  • Accepting voluntary surrender of a license
  • Publicly reprimanding the nurse
  • Issuing public letters of concern
  • Requiring satisfactory completion of treatment programs or remedial or educational training
  • Denying or refusing to issue a license or license renewal
  • Imposing a fine
  • Suspending a license
  • Revoking a license or privilege to practice nursing in North Carolina

Contact a Professional License Defense Attorney at Remington & Dixon, PLLC Today

If you are a licensed North Carolina nurse who recently tested positive for THC, your rights and livelihood may be in serious jeopardy. To protect yourself and avoid potentially severe consequences that could threaten your career or your freedom, you need a skilled lawyer immediately. Contact an experienced nursing professional license defense attorney at Remington & Dixon, PLLC today for a consultation.

FAQs About THC and Nursing Licenses

What should I do after receiving a positive drug test as a North Carolina nurse?

We encourage you to contact an experienced professional licensed defense lawyer immediately. The sooner you have an experienced lawyer in your corner, the stronger your chances of avoiding the worst professional and legal consequences of testing positive for THC.

Do these laws apply to me as a travel or locum tenens nurse?

Yes, they most likely do. The NCBON generally has jurisdiction over nurses licensed by other states hired to practice temporarily in North Carolina and nurses who work out-of-state on a multi-state license issued by North Carolina.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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