North Carolina is one of the states where marijuana remains illegal. If you get caught with marijuana in the state, even if it’s for medical purposes, you can still face being charged with a criminal offense.
Still, laws surrounding marijuana in North Carolina and the rest of the country are rapidly changing. It’s essential to understand how things around you may change regarding marijuana. Particularly when discussing the process of legalizing marijuana and what it means for it to get decriminalized.
In North Carolina, marijuana is not legal, but small amounts are partially decriminalized. What does that mean? Read on to find out.
Marijuana Laws in North Carolina
In the state, medical marijuana isn’t accessible. While the state Senate approved a medical cannabis bill last year, the House did not vote on the bill before it adjourned. The bill is still in legislative limbo. If the bill goes into effect, it will allow people with specific conditions, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis, to get prescribed medical marijuana.
As it stands now, in North Carolina, medical marijuana is illegal. Possession of half an ounce of marijuana or less is partially decriminalized, meaning you will only get charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor should you be caught with an amount that falls under that threshold. A Class 3 misdemeanor can result in a fine of $200.
However, if you possess half an ounce to an ounce and a half, you face a Class 1 misdemeanor. That carries a sentence of up to 45 days in jail and fines of as much as $1,000.
Possession of an ounce and a half or more of marijuana is a felony in the state, which means that you can face prison time and fines for the offense.
Decriminalization and Legalization
North Carolina has taken steps to decriminalize marijuana in the state, but it’s still not the same as legalization. In states where marijuana is legal, you can possess up to a certain amount (determined by the state) and face no criminal consequences for that possession.
In North Carolina, decriminalization occurs instead of legalization. In some cases, the penalties for drug-related crimes get reduced. Breaking the law can land you with a criminal charge that goes on your criminal record.
In states where true decriminalization of marijuana has occurred, there are no criminal sanctions for possessing a certain amount of the drug. So, if the drug is still technically illegal, the penalty is far less harsh and may only result in drug education and treatment instead of criminal and administrative penalties.
If you are arrested with any marijuana in your possession in North Carolina, you need a skilled and experienced attorney to help protect your rights and future. After all, you don’t want one small mistake that doesn’t even result in jail time to be on your record, which can impact your opportunities. Don’t simply brush off misdemeanor marijuana possession charges; instead, seek an attorney to help.