North Carolina outlaws the possession of various controlled substances and drugs. Drug possession charges in NC are usually proportionate to the type and quantity of drug.
Given the severity of a drug charge, it’s important not just to work with a skilled North Carolina criminal lawyer, but also to understand the drug laws of our state and the various factors that guide the sentencing of those who are convicted of drug possession.
In this post, we’re going to look at what the actual law says and how the drug itself impacts the charges and consequences you can face.
Possession of Controlled Drugs or Substances In North Carolina
Possession is one of the five major drug-related offenses in NC. These offenses include:
- Possession with an intent to manufacture, sell, and/or deliver
- Sale and/or delivery
Under N.C. General Statute 90-95(a)(3), it is illegal for anyone to knowingly possess a controlled drug or substance. Specifically, it’s a crime to:
- Possess a controlled drug or substance
- Possess, with the intention of manufacturing, selling, and/or delivering, a controlled drug or substance
- Possess a chemical with the intention of using it in the manufacture of a controlled drug or substance
- Possess, distribute, and/or deliver a chemical knowing or believing that it will be used in the manufacture of a controlled drug or substance
- Possess a counterfeit controlled substance
Controlled Substances in North Carolina
Controlled substances are drugs or chemicals whose manufacture, possession, distribution, and use are regulated by the federal government. Controlled substances in NC are categorized according to schedules.
Schedules are categories of drugs that are organized based on how hazardous the drugs are to those who consume them. Drugs here are classified under six different schedules:
Schedule 1 Drugs
These are highly addictive and have the greatest adverse effects on users. They have no recognized medical use. They have the harshest penalty upon conviction. Examples include heroin, opiates, Ecstasy, Peyote, and LSD.
Schedule II Drugs
These drugs have a considerably high potential for addiction and abuse. However, some of the drugs in this category have well-defined therapeutic uses in the medical world. Examples include cocaine, raw opium, morphine, methamphetamine, methadone, and hydrocodone.
Schedule III Drugs
The drugs in this schedule have a relatively high potential for abuse and addiction. Most of these drugs have widely accepted uses in medicine. The risk of developing physical dependence on these drugs is quite low. Examples include ketamine, anabolic steroids, and certain types of barbiturates.
Schedule IV Drugs
The substances in this category have a low potential for abuse and addiction. They have widespread medical uses. Examples include Xanax, barbital, clonazepam, valium, and Rohypnol.
Schedule V Drugs
These drugs have a very low potential for abuse and will rarely cause addiction among users. They have widespread medical uses with almost no restriction. Examples include codeine-based over-the-counter medications.
Schedule VI Drugs
The potential for abuse and addiction is exceedingly low with these drugs. However, they do not have any accepted medical uses. Examples include hashish, hashish oil, and marijuana.
Penalties for Drug Possession In North Carolina
The penalty for a drug possession conviction varies depending on the schedule of the possessed drug.
- A first possession offense of drugs in schedule III or IV is a misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses will be charged as a felony.
- First and second possession offenses of Schedule V and VI drugs will be charged as misdemeanors. Subsequent offenses may be treated as felonies.
- Marijuana possession leads to misdemeanor charges. However, trafficking marijuana is a felony.
While penalties for misdemeanors are not as severe as those for felonies, some misdemeanors still punishable by jail time, which can range from a few days to several months. A conviction on felony drug charges, however, can result in a lengthy prison term.
This information is important to know not only to help you make decisions based on the facts, but also so you don’t end up facing a charge that does not match up with your actual behavior.