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Drug Crimes: Marijuana Offenses

Despite its recent legalization in states like Washington and Colorado, marijuana, in any amount, is illegal in the state of North Carolina. Being charged with any marijuana related offense is very serious and can impact someone for the rest of their life if not handled correctly. A drug conviction can permanently tarnish your record and creates major obstacles in finding a job, holding some professional licenses, continuing your education, or getting a loan.

The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have years of experience representing clients in a wide range of marijuana charges. Contact our office today to receive the legal representation necessary to ensure that your case is resolved in your best interest with as little negative impact as possible.

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule VI Controlled Substance

North Carolina General Statute §90-94 lists marijuana as a Schedule VI drug. Meaning, there is:

  • No currently accepted medical use in the United States
  • Relatively low potential for abuse in terms of risk to public health and
  • Relatively low potential to produce psychic or physiological dependence liability based upon present medical knowledge.
What are the punishments for marijuana possession?

North Carolina law treats the possession of large amounts of marijuana as a greater offense than a person who is found to only have a small amount. Because of this, the amount of marijuana a person is found with is one of the most important factors when it comes to determining what criminal charges will be filed.

Depending on the amount the punishment can range from a minor offense that starts with a citation, to a felony charge, arrest, and potentially multiple years in prison. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the possible charges based on quantity:

  • Possession of less than .5oz: This is a misdemeanor offense which can lead to a $200 fine. For reference .5oz of marijuana is roughly enough to fit into a standard sandwich bag.

  • Possession of between .5oz and 1.5oz: This is also a misdemeanor offense. However, a person can receive up to 45 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

  • Possession of between 1.5oz and 10lbs: Unlike the first two charges, this charge is a Class (I) Felony. A person, if convicted, faces between 3 and 8 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

What other factors impact the punishment?

While one of the most significant factors in determining what a person is charged with is usually the amount of marijuana found on a person, there are a number of other considerations which can lead to more severe charges:

  • Possession of drug paraphernalia- Being found using or in possession of devices used for growing/smoking marijuana can lead to additional charges, and harsher punishments. If paraphernalia is found, a person could be facing an additional 45 days in jail and another fine of $1,000 on top of whatever punishments arise from the possession of the marijuana itself.

  • Possession of drug distribution equipment- Having equipment associated with the distribution and sale of drugs can be used as evidence of a person’s intent to distribute the drugs. Common examples include scales and other measuring equipment, large amounts of cash, prescription pill bottles and small bags.

  • If it is found that a person has sold marijuana the law will take into account who that person sold it to- North Carolina is considerably harsher when it comes to adults selling drugs to minors. If a person over the age of 18 sells marijuana to a minor between the ages of 16 and 13 that person can be charged with a Class D felony (which carries a possible sentence of 30-80 months in prison). That charge is further bumped to a Class C felony (possible sentence of 44-92 months in prison) if a person over the age of 18 sells to a child under the age of 13.

Can I be charged with intent to sell/distribute marijuana even if there is no evidence I sold any?

Yes. Police do not need to witness a person selling or distributing marijuana to charge them with intent to distribute. Intent to sell/distribute can be assumed if the circumstances surrounding the charge indicate that the illegal substance was intended to be sold. Police can use any evidence they find in order to charge someone with intent to distribute. This evidence typically includes: how much of the substance a person possesses, any writings/text messages suggesting sales, and equipment commonly associated with the sale of drugs.

What can hiring a defense attorney do for me?

Drug offenses are serious crimes that can have a significant detrimental impact on you and your loved ones. Retaining experienced legal representation is suggested to ensure that your case is handled correctly. The attorneys of Arnold & Smith, PLLC have the legal expertise necessary to: investigate the circumstances surrounding an arrest to be certain that your rights were not violated, hold the legal system accountable and prevent you from being over charged, and minimize or eliminate any long term negative consequences resulting from the charge.

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our experienced criminal defense attorneys are prepared to help you fight these charges. If you, or a loved one, is facing any drug related charge do not hesitate to contact us to ensure that your rights are protected.

Call today at (704)-370-2828 or click here to contact us now, for a free consultation.