To some degree, cannabis is decriminalized in the state of North Carolina. In some cases, related conduct in this state is treated much like that of a minor traffic violation. That means no criminal record or jail time for first-time offenses involving small quantities for personal use.
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In 2015, the state enacted the North Carolina Hemp Law. Senate Bill 313 allows for growing industrial hemp for state-sponsored research purposes. These research efforts are coordinated by the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Commission.
The state has also passed a medical CBD law. This allows cannabis extracts with low THC and high CBD levels to treat severe, incapacitating epileptic issues and conditions.
Possessing Marijuana in North Carolina
Under the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is a Schedule VI drug. Because of the state’s decriminalization laws, all jail sentences imposed on first-time offenders found with smaller amounts for personal use should be suspended.
Other penalties for possessing marijuana for personal use in North Carolina are as follows:
- • Less than ½ ounce = Misdemeanor: Fine no more than $200 (no jail time)
- • Between ½ ounce to 1 ½ ounce = Misdemeanor: Fine no more than $1,000 and 1-45 days in jail
- • Between 1 ½ ounce to 10 pounds = Felony: First offenders receive a discretionary fine, all offenders punishable by 3-8 months of jail time
Possession with Intent to Distribute
In the State of North Carolina, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it is a felony charge. Possession of any amount of cannabis over 10 pounds can lead to distribution-related charges. Below are the various penalties for charges related to possession with intent to distribute in NC:
- Under 10 pounds = Felony: 3-8 months’ jail time and discretionary fine for first-time offenders
- Between 10-50 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $5,000 and 25-39 months of imprisonment
- Between 50-2,000 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $25,000 and 25-51 months in jail
- Between 2,000-10,000 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $50,000 and 70-93 months of prison time
- More than 10,000 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $200,000 and 175-222 months in prison
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Concentrates & Hashish
Hashish is an extract of resin from cannabis. Possession of this form of cannabis and other marijuana concentrate is a crime in the state of North Carolina. Penalties for possession of hashish and concentrates in NC are as follows:
• Less than 1.4 grams or ½ ounce = Misdemeanor: Fine of $200 and a 1 to 10-day possible suspended sentence
• Between 1.4 grams (.05 ounce) to 4.25 grams (.15 ounce) = Misdemeanor: Discretionary fine and 1-45 days in jail
• More than 4.25 grams or .15 ounce = Felony: Discretionary fine and a presumptive 4 to a 6-month jail sentence
Selling Marijuana in North Carolina
Delivering no more than 5 grams of cannabis without any compensation is not categorized as delivery or sale in the state of North Carolina. However, possession charges can occur, which may lead to prosecution. The following are fines for selling and delivering under 10 pounds in this state:
- • Delivering under 10 pounds without compensation = Felony: Discretionary fines for first-time offenders and 3-8 months in jail
- • Selling less than 10 pounds = Felony: Discretionary fines for first-time offenders and 4-8 months’ jail time
- The penalties for delivering or selling more than 10 pounds of cannabis in North Carolina are:
- • Between 10-50 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $5,000 and 25-30 months’ imprisonment
- • Between 50-200 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $25,000 and 35-42 months’ jail time
- • Between 2,000-10,000 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $50,000 and 70-80 months in prison
- • More than 10,000 pounds = Felony: Fine no less and $200,000 and 175-219 months in prison
Growing Marijuana in North Carolina
The cultivation, manufacturing, or growing of cannabis is a felony in North Carolina. Penalties apply for these various felony charges related to cultivating marijuana as follows:
• Under 10 pounds = Felony: Discretionary fines for first-time offenders and 3-8 months’ jail time
• Between 10-50 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $5,000 and 25-30 months’ imprisonment
• Between 50-2,000 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $25,000 and 35-42 months’ incarceration
• Between 2,000-10,000 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $50,000 and 70-80 months in jail
• Over 10,000 pounds = Felony: Fine no less than $200,000 and 175-219 months in prison
Using Marijuana in North Carolina
Under North Carolina state laws, the manufacture, delivery, use, sale, or possession of paraphernalia is a punishable misdemeanor. This crime comes with a discretionary fine for first-time offenders, and a jail sentence of 1-45 days.
Those over the age of 18 who deliver paraphernalia to a minor under 18 years old who is at least 3 younger than the deliverer commit a Class I felony. The adult offender is subject to discretionary fines, if a first-time offense, and 3-8 months in jail.
North Carolina participates in a state-run administered program mandated by its medical CBD law. This state allows the use of cannabis extracts to treat severe conditions related to debilitating cases of intractable epilepsy.
For epileptic patients in NC, medical marijuana prescriptions are limited to cannabis extracts. These medical cannabis derivatives must contain no more than 9/10 of 1% of THC, and be high in CBD content, with levels of no less than 5%.
Breaking Marijuana Laws in North Carolina
Someone convicted of a Class I misdemeanor who has no previous violations for controlled substances will be punished as if a Class I felon. Those with previous violations who are convicted of Class II misdemeanors will be punished as Class I misdemeanor offenders. Offenders given required suspended sentences are guilty of Class II misdemeanors.
First time North Carolina marijuana law offenders may receive suspended sentences and be placed on probation instead of doing actual jail time. The probation, which is no longer than 5 years, will generally include drug education programs. Once complete, the offender is discharged, and the drug charges are dismissed.
Those convicted of cannabis crimes in North Carolina are subject to tax stamp fees. These fees are equal to $3.50 per gram if the offender possesses more than 42.5 grams. For stems, the North Carolina Tax Stamp fee is $40 per gram. The penalties for non-payment of tax stamp fees in both a civil and criminal offense, and come with a 140% hike in taxes, plus interest payments.