North Carolina Marijuana Laws

Learn about North Carolina Marijuana Laws for Possession, Growing, and Selling.

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Marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture are regulated by both state and federal law. In North Carolina, marijuana is classified as a Schedule VI substance, which means that it is considered to have a low potential for abuse or addiction, however, its possession and use are nonetheless illegal. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 90-94.) Also, while not covered in this article, it is also a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in North Carolina.

For information about charges and penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana in North Carolina, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in North Carolina.

Marijuana Possession

It is a crime to knowingly or intentionally possess marijuana (including small amounts for personal use) in North Carolina. Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 90-95.)

  • Up to one half of an ounce. Penalties include a fine of up to $200, up to 30 days in jail, or both.
  • Between one half ounce and one and a half ounces. Penalties include a fine of up to $500, between one and 120 days in jail, or both. The judge may order probation or community service in addition to, or  in lieu of some or all of the jail time.
  • One-and-a-half ounces or more. Penalties include a fine of $500 or more, up to one year in jail, or both.

Manufacture and Sales

It is illegal to manufacture or sell marijuana (or possessing marijuana with the intent to do so) in North Carolina. Penalties vary according to the amount possessed, manufactured, or sold. The following penalties also apply to a defendant who has conspired with one or more persons to sell marijuana, even if the sale never actually takes place. And while not covered here, violations that take place within 300 feet of a school, or sales to a minor or a pregnant woman incur additional penalties. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 90-95.)

  • Up ten pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
  • Between ten and 50 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $500, a mandatory minimum prison time of 25 months (and up to 30 months), or both.
  • Between 50 and 2,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, a mandatory minimum prison time of 35 months (and up to 42 months), or both.
  • Between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $50,000, a mandatory minimum prison time of 70 months (and up to 84 months), or both.
  • 10,000 pounds or more. Penalties include a fine of up to $200,000, a mandatory minimum prison time of 179 months (and up to 219 months), or both.

Drug Paraphernalia

It is illegal in North Carolina to manufacture or sell drug paraphernalia (or possess paraphernalia with the intent to do so). Paraphernalia includes items used in growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana. Penalties for possession, manufacture or sale include a fine of up to $200, up to 30 days in jail, or both. However, sales to a minor (when the seller is at least three years older than the minor) may incur an additional fine (as determined by the judge), between four to six months in jail, or both. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 90-113.21.)

Learn more about drug possession laws in North Carolina.

Stamp Tax

A stamp tax is a tax imposed on certain types of transactions (such as the transfer of property) that requires a stamp to be purchased and attached either to the item sold or to an instrument documenting the transaction (such as a deed). The federal government imposes stamp taxes on deeds, the issue and transfer of stocks and bonds, and on playing cards.

In North Carolina, those who buy, transport, or import marijuana into North Carolina are required to pay a stamp tax and place the stamp (proof of payment) onto the contraband. However, because the possession of marijuana is illegal, people typically don’t pay the stamp tax. People who are convicted for possession will also be liable for payment of the unpaid taxes ($3.50 for each gram or portion of a gram). (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 105-113.107.)

Learn about common crimes and the penalties they carry in North Carolina.

The Value of Local Legal Representation

If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.

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