(N.C.G.S. 90-95 as of 2/05/07)
Drugged driving: This state has a zero tolerance per se drugged driving law enacted. In their strictest form, these laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have any detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite (i.e., compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in the body, but not necessarily psychoactive themselves) present in their bodily fluids.
Penalties for sale, delivery or manufacture are increased if the sale occurs within 300 feet of a school zone if the offender is over 21 and if the sale was made to a minor or to a pregnant woman.
Possession of paraphernalia is punishable by up to six months in jail.
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.
Possession of one half ounce or less is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, most likely suspended. Possession of greater than one half ounce is punishable by 1 – 120 days in jail, with a possibility of community service or probation in lieu of jail. Possession greater than 1.5 ounces increases the penalties to up to 12 months in jail.
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.
Many people decide to grow their own marijuana because it seems safer and more convenient than trying to find someone to buy it from. From a legal standpoint, though, growing marijuana is a much riskier endeavor.
Of course, selling any excess marijuana will only result in additional trouble.
An example of the serious consequences of marijuana cultivation can be found in a recent case involving a North Carolina mother and son who were arrested in August 2013 after law enforcement received a tip that marijuana was being sold out of their home. Upon executing a search warrant, police discovered three marijuana plants being grown in the family’s backyard. The plants had an estimated street value of $3,200.
North Carolina marijuana penalties
After the seizure, both individuals were charged with a number of serious offenses including felony possession of marijuana, manufacturing marijuana and maintaining a dwelling for controlled substance. Both have been detained pending a late September court date.
Under North Carolina law, the possession of anything less than 1.5 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor that is punishable, at most, by 120 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. By contrast, the cultivation of anything less than 10 pounds of marijuana is a felony that can bring up to 24 months of incarceration. Growing anything more than 10 pounds carries a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years in prison.
Over the last several years, societal attitudes surrounding marijuana use have changed significantly. Whereas marijuana use was once seen as something that was only acceptable in edgier social groups, it is now much more mainstream.
Unfortunately, this increased acceptance has given some marijuana users a false sense of security. It is important to remember that marijuana is still illegal under both federal and state law, and that getting caught can have serious legal consequences. This is especially true when it comes to growing marijuana, even if the grow operation was relatively small and there was no evidence of large-scale drug distribution.