South Carolina Marijuana Laws

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Marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture are regulated by both state and federal law. In South Carolina, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and no generally recognized medical value. (S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-190.) While not covered in this article, it is a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana in South Carolina.

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

Marijuana Possession and Purchase

It is a crime to knowingly or intentionally possess up to one ounce of marijuana in South Carolina. Amounts exceeding one ounce are treated as trafficking crimes, explained below in "Manufacture, Distribution, and Trafficking." Penalties for possession vary according to whether the offense is a first or subsequent conviction.  Additional penalties apply for purchasing marijuana near a school or park. (S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-370(c)&(d).)

  • First convictions. For first offenses involving amounts up to one ounce, penalties include a fine of between $100 and $200, up to 30 days in jail, or both.
  • Second convictions. Second convictions for possessing up to one ounce are punishable with a fine between $200 and $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
  • Purchase near a school or park. In addition to the penalties described above, someone who purchases any amount of marijuana within a half mile of a school or public park, will also face a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both. (S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-445(D)(2).)

Manufacture, Distribution, and Trafficking

Manufacturing or distributing marijuana (or possessing marijuana with the intent to do so) in South Carolina is illegal. When the amount of marijuana involved is ten pounds or more, the offense is known as “trafficking in marijuana.” Penalties vary according to the amount manufactured or distributed, with increased penalties for sales to a minor or near a school. (S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-370(e).)

  • Up to ten pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to 5 years in prison, or both. This is also the sentence for possession for personal use of one ounce to ten pounds.
  • Between ten and 100 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, at least one year (and up to ten years) in prison, or both. These penalties also apply to possession of these amounts for personal use.
  • Between 100 and 2,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, at least 25 years in prison, or both. These penalties also apply to possession of these amounts for personal use.
  • Between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, at least 25 years in prison, or both. These penalties also apply to possession of these amounts for personal use.
  • 10,000 pounds or more. Penalties include a fine of up to $200,000, at least 25 years in prison, or both.
  • Sales near a school. In addition to the penalties described above, a defendant who knowingly sells marijuana within a half-mile radius of a school or public park will face a fine of up to $10,000, up to ten years in prison, or both. (S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-445.)
  • Sales to a minor. In addition to the penalties described above, a defendant who sells marijuana to a minor will face a fine of up to $10,000, up to ten years in prison, or both. (S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-440.)

Drug Paraphernalia

It is illegal in South 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. If convicted, a defendant will have to pay a civil fine of up to $500, but will not be subject to criminal prosecution. (S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-391.)

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 South Carolina, those who buy, transport, or import marijuana into South 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. When you are convicted for possession, you will also be liable for payment of the unpaid taxes ($3.50 for each gram or portion of a gram). (S.C. Code Ann. § 12-21-5090.)

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.

by: , Contributing Author

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