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People all over the country have been entering the voting booth this election cycle and directing their legislators to make marijuana legal. In recent years, many states have passed laws legalizing both medical and recreational cannabis — but not North Carolina.

State officials have thrown around ideas of decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana, discussing the public health and economic repercussions that could follow. 

However, these same state officials warn that the North Carolina legislature is far from embracing marijuana decriminalization and legalization. They say that it’s something North Carolinians should not expect to happen anytime soon.

If you are in favor of making marijuana legal, then you’ll have to simply keep hoping that it happens one day. Until then, you should familiarize yourself with North Carolina’s existing marijuana laws so you know what you could be facing if you’re ever caught in possession of marijuana in the state.

Marijuana Laws in North Carolina

In North Carolina, simple marijuana possession has been partially decriminalized. For non-intoxicating medical uses, it is legal in limited ways. Delivery, cultivation, possession, and the sale of marijuana? These crimes carry some hefty penalties.


If you are found with less than one-half ounce of marijuana in North Carolina, it’s a misdemeanor and does not carry a penalty of jail time. You may be required to pay a $200 fine. Anything more, though, and it’s not as simple as offering up a debit card. Here’s the breakdown:

  • If you are found in possession of between one-half ounce and 1.5 ounces, then it is also a misdemeanor. You can face penalties of up to 45 days in jail and fines of $1,000.
  • For amounts of marijuana between 1.5 ounces and 10 pounds, you can face felony charges. The penalties include up to three months in jail and fines of $1,000.
  • Possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana but less than 50 is treated in the state as an intent to distribute the substance, which makes it a felony charge. You can face up to 39 months in prison and fines of $5,000. 
  • For up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana, you can spend up to 51 months in prison and be responsible for fines of $25,000.

Delivery and Sale

If you intend to deliver or sell any amount of marijuana in North Carolina, then you face felony charges. Even when the amount is less than 10 pounds, an offender may spend up to eight months in jail and pay $1,000 in fines.

A sharp jump, a conviction on the sale or delivery of up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana can end in prison time of 51 months and leave you footing a $25,000 bill.

Up to 10,000 pounds of marijuana intended for sale or delivery? Plan on a maximum of 93 months in prison and fines up to $50,000. 

Over 10,000 pounds and you’re looking at 222 months in prison and fines of $200,000.


North Carolina Marijuana Cultivation Defense Lawyer

Growing any amount of marijuana in North Carolina, for any reason, is a felony as well. If you are found growing up to 10 pounds, the penalty of up to eight months in prison and fines of $1,000 will apply. Beyond that, North Carolina outlines the following:

  • Up to 50 pounds of marijuana can end in 2.5 years in prison and payment of $5,000 in fines. 
  • Between 50 and 2,000 pounds will result in up to 3.5 years in prison and fines of $25,000. 
  • For 2,500 to 10,000 pounds, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of six years imprisonment and fines of $50,000. 
  • Getting caught growing more than 10,000 can put you in prison for up to 18 years and have you facing the payment of $200,000 in fines.

While you may have friends in neighboring states participating in the legal commerce of marijuana in various forms and fashions, the fact remains that the drug is still illegal here. If you’ve landed yourself in a sticky spot with cannabis, it’s best to reach out to a seasoned legal professional. 

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