While the possession of marijuana may be legal in more states across the country than ever before, it is still illegal to possess, buy or sell in South Carolina. As a criminal lawyer in North Charleston, I frequently handle cases for clients who have been charged with possession of marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute (PWID), possession within proximity of a school, manufacturing or trafficking marijuana. These varying charges are all serious charges but carry varying penalties. With the exception of a first-time charge of simple possession, which can be handled in municipal or magistrate’s court, all other charges are handled in general sessions court by the Solicitor’s office. If you have been charged with a crime involving marijuana, contact our office now for a free consultation.
What Parts of the Marijuana Plant are Illegal in South Carolina?
South Carolina defines what parts of the marijuana plant are illegal to have. All types of marijuana and all parts of the plant, growing or not, seeds, and resin are illegal to possess. It is legal to possess mature marijuana stalks or plant fibers from the stalks as well as marijuana oil or cakes made from the seeds. Possession of paraphernalia is illegal. Paraphernalia is anything designed or intended for use in ingesting, manufacturing, or preparing a controlled substance, like pot. Examples of illegal paraphernalia are pipes, water pipes, roach clips, and bongs. While a paraphernalia charge is civil in nature, meaning you get a fine and no jail time, it can still show up on your SLED criminal record.
Criminal Charges and Penalties Associated with Marijuana in South Carolina
There are different thresholds each of the below charges must meet in order to be brought. Each of the charges below carries more sever penalties for second, third, or subsequent times the defendant has been charged with the same crime. Please note that drug crimes do not have to be for the same substance in order to elevate subsequent charges to second or third offenses. For example, you had a conviction for simple possession of marijuana years ago but were recently charged with PWID of cocaine for the first time, your prior conviction of simple possession could elevate your PWID charge from first to second, which carries harsher penalties. No charge is too small to seek the advice of an experienced criminal attorney.
Simple Possession: Possession of 28 grams (one ounce) or less of marijuana carries a charge of simple possession. Any amount over 1 ounce can be treated as a distribution crime, described below. Simple possession of marijuana in South Carolina is a misdemeanor punishable by not more than 30 days in jail and a fine between $100 and $200. Clients with a first-time simple possession charge may be eligible to enter a pre-trial intervention program or attend a drug abuse program to decrease their penalties. For a second charge, the charge remains a misdemeanor, but penalties increase to no more than 1 year of jail and between $200 and $1,000 in fines. A person purchasing marijuana within a half mile of a school or public park will face the first or second time penalties listed here but will also face a fine of up to $1,000, one year in jail or both.
Possession With Intent to Distribute (PWID): A person can be charged with PWID when they manufacturer, distribute, or dispense marijuana or possess more than one ounce but less than ten pounds of marijuana. PWID in South Carolina is a felony charge and penalties include a fine up to $5,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison. Distribution of marijuana is handled the same way as PWID. Manufacturing marijuana is also handled the same way as PWID and could be charged when a person grows or processes marijuana plants. Sales of marijuana within half a mile of a school or public park or to a minor can be punished by the addition of a $10,000 fine and/or up to ten years in prison.
Trafficking: Possession of ten pounds or more (but less than 100 pounds) is a felony offense punishable by 1 year to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Penalties get more severe the more marijuana a person has in their possession.
Charged with a Crime in South Carolina Involving Marijuana?
If you have been charged with any of the charges above, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to explain the law to you and vigorously defend you in court. Call Deaton Law Firm now for a free consultation.