Penalties for marijuana possession in North Carolina

Amid the passage of legal recreational marijuana use in both Washington and Oregon, the use of the substance has become a forefront issue all across America. Many other states are likely to pass similar initiatives in the years to come-adding to the growing list of states to legalize pot for recreational purposes. New York, Tennessee, Florida and Arizona are expected to see ballot initiatives this upcoming year.

However, the use and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes is still illegal in plenty of states, including North Carolina. In North Carolina, marijuana is classified as a Schedule VI Controlled Substance. Although considered less dangerous than other controlled substances, marijuana possession carries stiff penalties.

But what are the exact penalties in North Carolina for possessing pot? It depends on the amount of marijuana an individual is caught with.

PENALTIES FOR POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA IN NORTH CAROLINA

In North Carolina, the penalties associated with marijuana possession vary according to how much marijuana an individual is found with:

  • Possession of ½ ounce of marijuana: Possession of ½ ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor. Individuals are likely to face up to a 30 day jail sentence and a fine of up to $200.
  • Possession of 1.5 ounces of marijuana: Possession of more than ½ of an ounce but no more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana is also considered a misdemeanor. However, individuals found with amounts in these ranges can expect to receive a more stringent penalty. Offenders are likely to face a fine of up to $500 and a 120 day jail sentence.
  • Possession of over 1.5 ounces of marijuana: Possession of over 1.5 ounces of marijuana is classified as a felony. Offenders are likely to face a $500 fine and up to 1 year in jail.

The official penalties assessed, however, will depend on individual circumstances. Offenders with past criminal records, for instance, could have a different outcome than first-time offenders.

THE FUTURE OF MARIJUANA LAWS IN NORTH CAROLINA

Despite the strict penalties associated with marijuana possession in North Carolina, this may soon change in upcoming months. The North Carolina General Assembly introduced House Bill 637 that would reduce the current penalties for certain minor marijuana possession offenses.

Specifically, the language of the bill stipulates that individuals caught in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would receive only a civil infraction. (The present law assesses a steep fine as well as a jail sentence.) The bill also includes language that would allow individuals to seek expungements for class 3 misdemeanor convictions.

The bill is currently pending review in front of the Judiciary Subcommittee B in the House.