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North Carolina Laws & Penalties

Offense Penalty Incarceration   Max. Fine  

Possession

Personal Use

1/2 oz or less misdemeanor N/A $ 200
1/2 - 1.5 oz misdemeanor 1 - 45 days $ 1,000
1.5 oz - 10 lbs felony 3 - 8 mos $ 1,000

With intent to distribute

Less than 10 lbs felony 3 - 8 mos $ 1,000
10 - 50 lbs felony 2 - 2.5 years $ 5,000
50 - 2000 lbs felony 3 - 3.5 years $ 25,000
2000 - 10,000 lbs felony 6 - 7 years $ 50,000
10,000 lbs or more felony 14.5 - 18 years $ 200,000

Sale or Delivery

Less than 10 lbs felony 4 - 8 mos $ 1,000
10 - 50 lbs felony 2* - 2.5 years $ 5,000
50 - 2000 lbs felony 3* - 3.5 years $ 25,000
2000 - 10,000 lbs felony 6* - 7 years $ 50,000
10,000 lbs or more felony 14.5* - 18 years $ 200,000
To a minor or pregnant women felony 3 - 8 years $ 0
Within 1000 feet of school, child care center, or park grounds felony 1 - 3 years $ 0
* Mandatory minimum sentence

Cultivation

Less than 10 lbs felony 3 - 8 mos $ 1,000
10 - 50 lbs felony 2* - 2.5 years $ 5,000
50 - 2000 lbs felony 3* - 3.5 years $ 25,000
2000 - 10,000 lbs felony 6* - 7 years $ 50,000
10,000 lbs or more felony 14.5* - 18 years $ 200,000
* Mandatory minimum sentence

Hash & Concentrates

Possession of less than .05 oz misdemeanor 1 - 10 days $ 200
Possession of .05 - .15 oz misdemeanor 1 - 45 days $ 200
Possession of more than .15 oz felony 4 - 6 mos $ 200

Paraphernalia

Use, possession, sale, delivery, or manufacture of paraphernalia misdemeanor 1 - 45 days $ 1,000
To a minor who is at least 3 years younger felony 3 - 8 mos $ 0

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Vehicles and other property may be seized.

Miscellaneous

Involving a minor felony 8 mos - 7 years $ 0
Possession in a penal institution felony 4 - 8 mos $ 0
A fine of $0 is discretionary and is decided on a case-by-case basis by the sitting judge. See below for more details.
If convicted of a felony offense and given probabtion results in driver's license forfeiture.

Penalty Details

Marijuana is a Schedule VI substance under the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-94

Possession for Personal Use

Possession of a half ounce or less marijuana is a Class 3 misdemeanor and a maximum fine of $200. Any sentence of imprisonment imposed for this offense must be suspended. Possession of more than a half ounce but 1 and a half ounces or less is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 1 to 45 days imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense, and maximum fine of $1000. Possession of over 1 and a half ounces but less than or equal to 10 pounds is a Class I felony punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.23
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(d)(4)

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Possession with intent to distribute less than 10 pounds of marijuana is a class I felony punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(b)(2)

Possession of 10 pounds or more but less than 50 pounds is a Class H felony punishable by a minimum of 25 months and maximum of 30 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $5,000. Possession of 50 pounds or more but less than 2,000 pounds is a Class G felony punishable by a minimum of 35 months and maximum of 42 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $25,000. Possession of 2,000 pounds or more but less than 10,000 pounds is a Class F felony punishable by a minimum of 70 months and maximum of 80 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $50,000. Possession of 10,000 pounds or more of marijuana is a Class D felony punishable by a minimum of 175 months and maximum of 219 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $200,000.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(h)

Sale/Delivery

Delivery of less than 5 grams of marijuana for no compensation is not considered sale or delivery, but may still be prosecuted as possession. Sale of less than 10 pounds of marijuana is a Class H felony punishable by 4 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for the first offense. Delivery without compensation of less than 10 pounds is a Class I felony punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(a)(2)

Sale or delivery of 10 pounds or more but less than 50 pounds is a Class H felony punishable by a minimum of 25 months and maximum of 30 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $5,000. Sale or delivery of 50 pounds or more but less than 2,000 pounds is a Class G felony punishable by a minimum of 35 months and maximum of 42 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $25,000. Sale or delivery of 2,000 pounds or more but less than 10,000 pounds is a Class F felony punishable by a minimum of 70 months and maximum of 80 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $50,000. Sale or delivery of 10,000 pounds or more of marijuana is a Class D felony punishable by a minimum of 175 months and maximum of 219 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $200,000.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(h)

Cultivation

Cultivation of less than 10 pounds of marijuana is a class I felony punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(a)(2)

Cultivation of 10 pounds or more but less than 50 pounds is a Class H felony punishable by a minimum of 25 months and maximum of 30 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $5,000. Cultivation of 50 pounds or more but less than 2,000 pounds is a Class G felony punishable by a minimum of 35 months and maximum of 42 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $25,000. Cultivation of 2,000 pounds or more but less than 10,000 pounds is a Class F felony punishable by a minimum of 70 months and maximum of 80 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $50,000. Cultivation of 10,000 pounds or more of marijuana is a Class D felony punishable by a minimum of 175 months and maximum of 219 months imprisonment and a fine of at least $200,000.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(h)

Hash & Concentrates

Possession of an extract of marijuana resin, commonly referred to as hashish, is a crime in North Carolina. Possession of less than .05 oz. (~1.4 grams) is a Class 3 misdemeanor which is punishable by a $200 fine and a 1-10 day sentence that must be suspended. Possession of more than .05 oz. (~1.4 grams) but less than .15 oz. (~4.25 grams) is a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine determined at the discretion of the court and a 1-45 day sentence. Possession of an amount greater than .15 oz. (~4.25 grams) is a Class I felony which has a presumptive sentence of 4-6 months and a discretionary fine may also be assessed by the court.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. §90-95(d)(4)
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. §15A-1340.17(b)

Paraphernalia

Use, possession, sale, delivery, or manufacture of paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 1 to 45 days imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense. Delivery of paraphernalia by a person aged 18 years or older to a person under the age of 18 who is at least 3 years younger is a Class I felony punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.23
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. §§ 90-113.22 to 113.23

Sentencing

If a person has a previous controlled substance violation and commits a Class 1 misdemeanor, he will be punished as a Class I felon. If a person has a previous controlled substance violation and commits a Class 2 misdemeanor, he will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. If a person has a previous controlled substance violation and commits an offense that requires any sentence of imprisonment be suspended, he is guilty of Class 2 misdemeanor.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. §§ 90-95(e)(3)-(4), (7)

First time misdemeanor marijuana proceedings may be suspended and the offender placed on probation. The probation must include drug education, unless certain circumstances apply. Upon successful completion of the terms of probation, the charges will be dismissed and the individual discharged.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-96

A person convicted of a marijuana possession, cultivation, or sale/delivery offense may be eligible for probation if they are not sentenced to the maximum term of imprisonment allowed for that offense. This may include a requirement to attend treatment. This probation cannot last longer than 5 years.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(f)

Forfeiture

Vehicles and other property may be seized for controlled substance violations. Seized property is not subject to be returned to the owner unless he can prove in a forfeiture proceeding that he is the owner and was unaware that it was being used in the violation.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. §§ 90-122 to 112.1

Miscellaneous

Sale or delivery to a minor or pregnant women

Sale or delivery by a person aged 18 years or older to a person between 14-15 years of age or to a pregnant woman of any age is a Class D felony punishable by 38 to 80 months imprisonment and a fine to be set by the discretion of the court for the first offense. Sale or delivery by a person aged 18 years or older to a person 13 years of age or younger is a Class C felony punishable by 44 to 92 months imprisonment and a fine to be set by the discretion of the court for the first offense.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(e)(5)
Employing a minor in a drug offense

A person aged 18-20 years who uses a minor in the sale, delivery, or cultivation of marijuana is guilty of a Class G felony if the minor is 14-17 years old, punishable by 8 to 16 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for the first offense, and a Class F felony if the minor is 13 years of age or younger, punishable by 10 to 20 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for the first offense. A person aged 21 years or older who uses a minor in the sale, delivery, or cultivation of marijuana is guilty of a Class E felony if the minor is 14-17 years old, punishable by 15 to 31 months imprisonment and a fine to be set by the discretion of the court for the first offense, and a Class D felony if the minor is 13 years of age or younger, punishable by 38 to 80 months imprisonment and a fine to be set by the discretion of the court for the first offense. A person aged 21 years or older who uses a minor in a drug offense may be liable for civil damages for drug addiction.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95.4
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95.5
Promoting drug sales by a minor

Any person aged 21 years or older who entices, encourages, forces, or supports a minor in selling, delivering, or cultivating marijuana is guilty of a Class D felony punishable by 38 to 80 months imprisonment and a fine to be set by the discretion of the court for the first offense.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95.6
Participating in a drug violation by a minor

Any person aged 21 years or older who purchases marijuana from a minor 13 years or younger is guilty of a Class G felony punishable by 8 to 16 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for the first offense.
See: N.C. Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95.7
Sale or delivery on school grounds

Sale or delivery in or within 1,000 feet of school, child care center, or park grounds is class E felony punishable by 15 to 31 months imprisonment and a fine to be set by the discretion of the court for the first offense. Delivery of less than 5 grams of marijuana for no compensation is not considered delivery, but still may be prosecuted for possession.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. §§ 90-95(e)(8), (10)
Possession in a penal institution

Possession of any amount of marijuana in a penal institution or local confinement facility is a Class H felony punishable by 4 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for the first offense.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1340.17
  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95(e)(9)
Reimbursement for undercover marijuana purchases

When a person is convicted of a marijuana offense, the court may order him to reimburse the law enforcement agency for money spent in purchasing marijuana as part of an undercover operation.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 90-95.3
Driver's license forfeiture

Any time an individual is convicted of a felony offense and is given probabtion, they are to have their license forfeited.

See:

  • North Carolina Gen Stat. § 15A-1331A
Conditional Release

The state allows conditional release or alternative or diversion sentencing for people facing their first prosecutions. Usually, conditional release lets a person opt for probation rather than trial. After successfully completing probation, the individual's criminal record does not reflect the charge.

Decriminalization

The state has decriminalized marijuana to some degree. Typically, decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption. The conduct is treated like a minor traffic violation.

Mandatory Minimum Sentence

When someone is convicted of an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must sentence the defendant to the mandatory minimum sentence or to a higher sentence. The judge has no power to sentence the defendant to less time than the mandatory minimum. A prisoner serving an MMS for a federal offense and for most state offenses will not be eligible for parole. Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to "life MMS" must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.

Tax Stamps

This state has a marijuana tax stamp law enacted. This law mandates that those who possess marijuana are legally required to purchase and affix state-issued stamps onto his or her contraband. Failure to do so may result in a fine and/or criminal sanction. For more information, see NORML's report Marijuana Tax Stamp Laws And Penalties.





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