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North Carolina Marijuana Laws: Is Marijuana Legal in North Carolina?

UPDATED: February 12, 2020

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Possession of marijuana in North Carolina is illegal. Currently, there is a state bill working its way through North Carolina's legislative process that, if passed, would legalize medical marijuana. However, it is important to remember that even if medical marijuana were made legal according to North Carolina state law, possession of marijuana for any purpose would still be illegal under federal law.

What are the Penalties for the Possession of Marijuana in North Carolina?

If you are arrested for charges relating to North Carolina possession of marijuana, the penalties you will face often depend on the amount of marijuana you possessed and what you intended to do with it. North Carolina marijuana possession penalties include incarceration, fines, and marijuana addiction treatment. Individuals who possess small amounts for personal use almost always face more lenient penalties than those with large amounts or who intend to distribute the marijuana. Also, possession of synthetic forms of marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinols) or concentrated marijuana (hashish) typically brings stiffer penalties in North Carolina than does possession of regular marijuana. The chemical substance known as K2, as well as other cannabinoids that attempt to imitate the effects of marijuana, is still legal in North Carolina.

It is not a requirement for being charged with selling or trafficking marijuana in North Carolina that you be caught in the act of moving or selling it. In North Carolina, simply possessing any amount of marijuana over 10 lbs. will result in the same penalties as selling or growing marijuana. Additionally, possessing drug paraphernalia and distribution supplies such as measuring equipment or baggies will likely be used as evidence of your intent to sell. The difference between a charge of selling marijuana and a possession charge can be the difference between a felony or misdemeanor conviction, depending on the amount. The table below details the penalties in North Carolina for acts related to the possession and distribution of marijuana in the state. Keep in mind that separate penalties exist under federal law. Because of the complicated interplay of state and federal law, specific penalties will vary depending on your particular circumstances, so consulting an experienced North Carolina criminal attorney could be in your best interests.

North Carolina Marijuana Penalties Table

Activity 1



Fine 6


Possession Through 10 lbs 0.5 oz or less 1 Probation 5 $200 max Misdemeanor (3)
Over 0.5 oz through 1.5 oz Probation 5   Misdemeanor (1)
Over 1.5 oz through 10 lbs 3-8 months 3   Felony (I)
Cultivation, Distribution 1, or Possession Over 10 lbs 10 lbs or less Grow or Gift 1 3-8 months 3   Felony (I)
Sale 4-8 months 3   Felony (H)
Over 10 lbs to 50 lbs 25-30 months $5,000 min Felony (H)
50 lbs to 2,000 lbs 35-42 months $25,000 min Felony (G)
2,000 to 10,000 lbs 70-84 months $50,000 min Felony (F)
10,000 lbs or more 175-219 months $200,000 min Felony (D)
Any amount within 1,000 ft of a park, school, or child care center 2 15-31 months 3   Felony (E)
Sales to those: 13 & Under 4 44-92 months 3   Felony (C)
Over 13 to 16 or pregnant 4 38-80 months 3   Felony (D)


  1. Those who gift less than 5 grams face only possession charges.
  2. Only applies to perpetrators over 21 who cultivate or distribute, not possess.
  3. Sentencing may vary from the indicated range, especially in cases with prior convictions.
  4. Lack of knowledge of the age or pregnancy of the buyer is not a defense.
  5. Imprisonment can apply in cases with past convictions.
  6. Unless noted, fines are at the court’s discretion.

Follow this link for more information about North Carolina Marijuana Laws and North Carolina Medical Marijuana Laws

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