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Will North Carolina Decriminalize Medical Marijuana Use?


There is no question that the state of North Carolina is tough on drug crimes. Penalties include multi-year prison sentences and steep fines; even if you are convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana; and North Carolina does not have a law legalizing the use of medical marijuana.

However, all of that may soon change: North Carolina lawmakers are currently discussing legalizing the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana for medical purposes. Some have even advocated for modeling legalization based on the state’s county-by-county approach to alcohol sales in that, while some counties or portions thereof are “wet,” others are “dry”; based upon the votes of locally-elected boards or people.

Current Marijuana Laws & Exemptions in North Carolina

Still, some would remark that North Carolina has already taken some states to decriminalize possession of marijuana: If you are found in possession of ½ ounce or less–while it is still a Class 3 misdemeanor–you are not sentenced to jail time. However, any more is considered to be a Class 1 misdemeanor, and you could serve up to 120 days in jail. Being found in possession of more than 1.5 ounces is considered a Class I felony, punishable by serving up to 21 months in prison.

In addition, the Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act—passed in 2014 and amended in 2015—allows for the use of “hemp extract” for the treatment of epilepsy at the recommendation of a neurologist. In order for the use to be legal, the epilepsy patient’s neurologist has to have previously tried three or more other treatments that first failed. The hemp must also be greater than five percent CBD and less than .9 percent THC, and cannot produce psychoactive effects. However, the hemp extract cannot legally be manufactured within North Carolina for this purpose, effectively leaving providers without legal protection.

Hemp Producers in North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is legal to grow hemp that contains no more than .3 percent THC. CBD is extracted from the plant’s flowers, and used to treat conditions like anxiety and arthritic pain. Still, it remains federally classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic, making it very difficult on farmers to have legal protection in place. In September of this year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced that drugs including CBD with THC content below .1 percent would now be considered Schedule 5 drugs, as long as they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Contact Our North Carolina Drug Crime Lawyers

Unfortunately, the innocent are all too frequently caught up in marijuana charges, and their lives are forever affected; in large part because the laws can be confusing and based on arbitrary amounts and boundaries.

North Carolina drug crime attorney Rashad Hauter has provided a strong, aggressive criminal defense for those charged with marijuana crimes here in North Carolina for years. Contact the office of Hauter Law Firm, PC today to find out how we can help.



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