What You Need to Know About Underage Possession in North Carolina

Drug laws across the country are changing, especially those regarding marijuana, but some states are still behind the curve. Depending on where you live in the U.S., marijuana is completely legal, approved for medicinal use, or, like it is in North Carolina, decriminalized. But while North Carolina continues to relax the traditionally harsh penalties for drug possession with laws like the recent First Step Act, the state is still clamping down on underage possession. 

It is important to note that medical cannabis is available in North Carolina under certain circumstances. North Carolinians with intractable epilepsy may possess extracts with less than 0.9 percent THC, and a required five percent CBD. While it is still illegal to sell medicinal pot in the state, qualified patients can purchase marijuana in states where it is legal to do so. The medical marijuana exemption is a step forward, but it should not be interpreted as the legalization of medical marijuana in North Carolina.

Underage Drug Possession Across in North Carolina

Possession of controlled substances like marijuana is still illegal throughout much of the United States, and the laws regarding minors are some of the slowest to change. Some substances that are universally illegal for minors to possess include alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana (states with recreational marijuana laws). 

Americans can purchase tobacco after turning 18, and we can purchase and possess alcohol and legalized marijuana after turning 21. In North Carolina, minors are considered juveniles when they are under the age of 16 and are subject to different laws. Minor crimes like vandalism, underage drinking, and marijuana possession are usually brought before the state's juvenile justice system. 

North Carolina’s juvenile justice system uses a mix of punishment and rehabilitation to change a minor's behavior before adulthood. But in certain circumstances, such as repeat offenses or specific drug-related activity, even juveniles can end up in adult court. 

Fortunately, North Carolina has decriminalized marijuana possession of half an ounce or less for adults. This minor drug offense is a non-jailable misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $200. Possession of half an ounce to an ounce and a half is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 45 days with a maximum fine of $1,000. 

But any marijuana crime involving a minor is a felony and is punishable with a minimum of 8 months in jail and a maximum of 7 years in prison. 

If you or someone you know is being charged with underage possession of drugs in North Carolina, we can help. The Jason Reece Lawfirm in Charlotte has the experience needed to navigate the sometimes complex underage possession laws in North Carolina. Get in touch with us online or call 704-714-8888 and find out how we can help you mount the very best legal defense available.