North Carolina Marijuana Laws: Is Marijuana Legal in North Carolina?

Marijuana is not legal in North Carolina. North Carolina marijuana laws carry penalties of incarceration, fines, and marijuana reform treatment for possession charges. Additionally, possessing drug paraphernalia and distribution supplies such as measuring equipment or baggies will likely be used as evidence of your intent to sell, which can exacerbate your charges. Learn more about North Carolina's marijuana laws below.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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Possession of marijuana in North Carolina is a crime. Currently, there is a state bill working its way through North Carolina’s legislative process that, if passed, would mean medical marijuana legalization and decriminalization. However, it is important to remember that even if medical marijuana programs were made legal according to North Carolina state law, possession of marijuana for any purpose would still be illegal under federal law.

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What are the penalties for the possession of marijuana in North Carolina?

If you are arrested for drug crimes charges relating to North Carolina possession of marijuana, the penalties you will face often depend on the amount of marijuana you possessed and what you intended to do with it. North Carolina marijuana possession penalties include incarceration, fines, and marijuana addiction treatment program. Individuals who possess small amounts of recreational cannabis for personal use almost always face more lenient penalties than those with large amounts or who intend to distribute the marijuana. Also, possession of synthetic forms of marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinols) or concentrated marijuana (hashish) typically brings stiffer penalties in North Carolina than does possession of regular marijuana. The chemical substance known as K2, as well as other cannabinoids that attempt to imitate the effects of marijuana, is still legal in North Carolina.

It is not a requirement for being charged with selling or trafficking marijuana in North Carolina that you be caught in the act of moving or selling it. In North Carolina, simply possessing any amount of marijuana over 10 lbs. will result in the same penalties as selling or growing marijuana. Additionally, possessing drug paraphernalia and distribution supplies such as measuring equipment or baggies will likely be used as evidence of your intent to sell. The difference between a charge of selling marijuana and a possession charge can be the difference between a felony or misdemeanor conviction, depending on the amount. The table below details the penalties in North Carolina for acts related to the possession and distribution of marijuana in the state. Keep in mind that separate penalties exist under federal law. Because of the complicated interplay of state and federal law, specific penalties will vary depending on your particular circumstances, so consulting an experienced North Carolina criminal attorney could be in your best interests.

North Carolina Marijuana Penalties Table

Activity 1 Amount Incarceration Fine 6 Charge
Possession Through 10 lbs 0.5 oz or less 1 Probation 5 $200 max Misdemeanor (3)
Over 0.5 oz through 1.5 oz Probation 5 Misdemeanor (1)
Over 1.5 oz through 10 lbs 3-8 months in jail3 Class I Felony
Cultivation, Distribution 1, or Possession Over 10 lbs 10 lbs or less Grow or Gift 1 3-8 months3 Class I Felony
Sale 4-8 months 3 Class H Felony
Over 10 lbs to 50 lbs 25-30 months $5,000 min Class H Felony
50 lbs to 2,000 lbs 35-42 months $25,000 min Class G Felony
2,000 to 10,000 lbs 70-84 months $50,000 min Class F Felony
10,000 lbs or more 175-219 months $200,000 min Class D Felony
Any amount within 1,000 ft of a park, school, or child care center 2 15-31 months 3 Class E Felony
Sales to those: 13 & Under 4 44-92 months 3 Class C Felony
Over 13 to 16 or pregnant 4 38-80 months 3 Class D Felony
  1. Those who gift amounts of marijuana that are less than 5 grams face only possession charges.
  2. Only applies to perpetrators over 21 who cultivate or distribute cannabis, not possess.
  3. Sentencing may vary from the indicated range, especially in cases with prior convictions.
  4. Lack of knowledge of the age or pregnancy of the buyer is not a defense.
  5. Imprisonment can apply in cases with past cannabis convictions.
  6. Unless noted, fines are at the court’s discretion.

Follow this link for more information about North Carolina Marijuana Laws and North Carolina Medical Marijuana Laws

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