While numerous states are legalizing marijuana, either for medicinal purposes or recreational, North Carolina has not done so, yet. In accordance with North Carolina General Statute § 90-95 it is unlawful to manufacture, sell, deliver, or possess a controlled substance, and marijuana is a Schedule VI controlled substance. However, in some circumstances, possession of marijuana has been decriminalized. We understand this is confusing, so our criminal defense attorneys in Raleigh are looking at exactly what may happen and the charges and penalties you may face if you are caught with marijuana.
Penalties for Possession of Marijuana
Possession of marijuana refers to the dried, harvested plant, extracted resin (hashish), or synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol. The charges you are facing related to possession of marijuana are determined by the quantity you have at the time of your arrest.
- Possession of 0.5 ounce or less as well as possession of marijuana paraphernalia such as pipes or rolling papers is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine (though it is rare for a jail sentence to be part of the sentence).
- Possession of up to 1.5 ounces is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 120 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- Possession of more than 1.5 ounces or repeated possession can be elevated to a Class I felony.
In most cases, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana has been decriminalized, meaning you may be charged and face a fine if caught. However, if it’s a first offense, you will most likely not receive jail time.
Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana
If you are caught with marijuana and law enforcement suspects you were in the process of packaging, delivering, selling, or processing it, you can be charged with the intent to distribute or deliver. This is a much more serious crime that can lead to higher fines and longer sentences in jail or prison. Again, your punishment is determined by the amount of marijuana you are caught with as large quantities can lead to an elevated charge of drug trafficking while an established record of convictions can lead to a more serious penalty.
- Intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver marijuana is a Class I felony and may be punished by up to 24 months in prison. This may be elevated if you are caught near a school or other protected area.
- 10 pounds to 50 pounds may be charged as trafficking in North Carolina as a Class H felony.
- 50 to 2,000 pounds is a Class G felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 35 months in prison.
Federal Penalties for Marijuana
As states are loosening their laws concerning marijuana, it is still considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the federal government. Though you will most likely not be charged with a federal crime for possession this is typically handled at the state level, you may be facing federal drug trafficking charges if you are transporting across state lines or are a part of a larger operation. Penalties for selling marijuana include:
- Less than 50 kg: up to 5 years in federal prison;
- 50 to 99 kg: up to 20 years in federal prison;
- 100 to 999 kg: 5 to 40 years
- 1,000 kg or more: 10 years to life in prison.
If you are facing drug charges at the federal level, you need a federal criminal defense attorney to represent you against these charges.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Defense Attorney Today
Whether you are facing a minor possession charge or a more serious charge of intent to distribute or trafficking, you need a criminal defense attorney who can help you get a more favorable outcome. Our experienced defense attorneys advocate for our clients and do everything possible to minimize the consequences or penalties associated with their charges. Speak with an attorney 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling (919) 887-8040 or filling out the form below to get started.