possession of marijuana nc

North Carolina Marijuana Possession Laws

Being caught with marijuana in North Carolina can be scary. Because marijuana laws vary greatly from state to state, you are probably unsure of what kind of punishment you will be facing.

Many people get caught in possession of marijuana. It is one controlled substance that has a low risk for dependency and North Carolina law treats it accordingly. Small amounts of marijuana possession for personal use are effectively decriminalized, meaning there is no risk of jail time.

However, if this is your first time within the criminal court system, it is understandable that you would be stressed and worried about what the outcome may be. We would be happy to discuss the facts of your situation in a no obligation consultation..

We have defended cases just like yours in North Carolina. We know the courtroom players and have gained respect within the legal community. We can be your advocate in a system that can sometimes seem overwhelming.

Marijuana Possession – Laws & Penalties

In North Carolina, marijuana is considered a Schedule VI substance. Schedule VI is the lowest in severity of all controlled substances as it poses little risk for dependency or abuse. This means that marijuana is punished less severely than all other drugs in North Carolina.

Your potential sentence and punishment depend on the amount of marijuana you had in your possession and any prior marijuana or drug charges on your criminal record.

The following table displays potential sentence for first time convictions:

If you are caught with this amount: Penalty Class Your potential sentence will be:
Less than ½ ounce (Class III misdemeanor) No Jail. Up to $200 fine.
Between ½ and 1 ½ ounce (Class I misdemeanor) Up to 45 days in jail*
Between 1 ½ ounces and 10 pounds Felony Up to 12 months in prison

*It is very likely, with the assistance of an experienced criminal marijuana defense attorney, that the sentence for this level of marijuana possession will be suspended and you will be allowed to serve a term of probation rather than any jail time.

Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana

Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you may be charged with possession with intent to deliver. More serious than simple possession, possession with intent carries stiffer penalties.

How does the prosecutor determine what I was “intending” to do?

Despite what many people think, the amount of marijuana you are caught with doesn’t necessarily mean you were intending to sell it. Things that might give the prosecution probable cause to charge you with this offense are such things as: scales, baggies, excess cash, and tools normally associated with delivering marijuana.

We will often argue in court that an intent charge is overblown, and it should be reduced to a simple possession.

Possession with intent to deliver marijuana is a Class I felony. If this is a first criminal conviction, you will face up to 12 months in state prison. However, if you have any prior convictions on your record, this potential sentence is increased.

With an experienced attorney arguing at sentencing, you may be able to serve your sentence while on probation rather than locked away in a state run correctional facility.

Free Consultation on North Carolina Marijuana Laws

No criminal offense should be taken lightly. Drug convictions are criminal charge can stick with you for the rest of your life. When you are facing a marijuana possession charge in North Carolina, you need a experienced drug criminal defense attorney representing you to fight for your interests and fair treatment under the law. Call us for a consultation on your North Carolina marijuana case today.

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“Decriminalization” of Marijuana

Rapidly changing marijuana laws in this country have left many confused about the legal impact possession of a small amount of marijuana will have on their lives. The word “decriminalization” is often thrown around to describe many of these changes, although the impact this can have on a person’s life still varies widely amongst states.

Decriminalization broadly refers to decreased penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Beyond that, the matter instantly becomes more complicated.

What is a “small amount” of marijuana?

What constitutes a “small” amount of marijuana differs drastically amongst the states. In Ohio, for example, possessing anything less than 100 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor for which you cannot receive jail time—this amount is almost four ounces. Meanwhile, in other states, like North Carolina, this amount is half an ounce.

The legal status of marijuana in this country is further uniquely confused from the beginning by the fact that the federal government still classifies it as a Schedule I drug, the most severe classification (by comparison, North Carolina classifies marijuana as a Schedule VI substance, the least severe classification). The federal government can enforce its laws against someone no matter what state they are in, because state laws are not supposed to conflict with federal law.

But many states have decriminalized it, and these laws do conflict with federal law.

This means that the Feds can technically prosecute a person for any marijuana possession, use, or cultivation even if the laws of that state do not consider possession in that amount a crime. However, this is relatively rare and the federal government mostly focuses on large-scale marijuana operations, especially those that cross state lines. Two separate Deputy Attorneys General have released memos addressing federal prioritization of marijuana prosecution since 2009:

The first came from Deputy Attorney General David Ogden and declared that in states where it was legal, prosecuting personal medical marijuana use was a low priority for federal enforcement agencies even though it was and is illegal under federal law.

The second memo, in 2011, came from Deputy Attorney General James Cole and instructed federal enforcement agencies to increase the priority placed on prosecuting growers and dispensaries.

However, the federal government still has enormous latitude to pick and choose what marijuana cases they want to prosecute. The federal government is going to have to decide in the years to come how it is going to address this conflict between federal law and the laws of many states.

“Decriminalized” but still a crime

Using the word decriminalization is misleading in the context of some states’ marijuana laws. North Carolina’s system could best be described as “decriminalization-lite.” NC has decreased the penalties for possession—if you are caught possessing a half-ounce of marijuana or less in this state it is still a Class 3 misdemeanor but you cannot be sentenced to any jail time regardless of your criminal record. Possession of more than half an ounce to one and one-half ounces of marijuana is a Class 1 misdemeanor for which you can serve up to 120 days in jail depending on your criminal record. Possession of more than one and one-half ounces is a Class I felony (the letter “I”). This is the lowest level of felony but can be punishable by up to 21 months in prison depending on your record.

These laws contrast to those of other states that have a more “true” system of marijuana decriminalization. If you have half an ounce or less of marijuana in North Carolina, you won’t go to prison but will still have a misdemeanor on your criminal record unless you can get it expunged. A misdemeanor conviction can also count against you as a predicate offense if you are ever convicted of another crime with regards to calculating your prior record level to increase sentencing.

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in North Carolina it is also still important to have a skilled defense attorney experienced in defending against possession charges. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have years of experience doing just that in the local state and federal courts. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Call (704) 370-2828 – Arnold & Smith is dedicated to serving our clients with a range of legal services including Crime and Criminal cases. “Decriminalization” of Marijuana – Charlotte Crime Lawyer