Marijuana Law

Marijuana Laws in North Carolina

New marijuana laws have been sweeping the country over the last few years. Whether we’re talking about one of the 10 states (plus Washington D.C.) that have legalized recreational cannabis use, or the 30+ that have passed medical marijuana laws, it’s clear that cannabis reform has arrived.

In North Carolina, however, not much has changed. Marijuana, in any shape or form, is still illegal to possess, grow, or sell. The only exception to this rule is HB766, which allows for the use of CBD oil as a treatment option for those with intractable epilepsy. Other than that, cannabis is as illegal as ever in North Carolina.

That could soon change, though. A new bill has been proposed that would effectively legalize medical marijuana in our state. But regardless of where future legislation takes us, it’s important to understand the current laws and penalties for marijuana use in North Carolina. And remember, if you or a loved one have been accused or charged with a marijuana-related crime, it’s best to seek the help of the Wilmington, NC criminal defense lawyers at Mulligan Attorneys.

Current North Carolina Marijuana Laws and Penalties

North Carolina has some pretty strict laws regarding cannabis. In fact, our laws are more stringent than most other states. What follows are the main laws regarding growing, possessing, or selling marijuana in North Carolina.


In terms of possession, having 0.5 oz or less on your person is a misdemeanor and will result in a $200 fine. Having between 0.5 and 1.5 oz is also a misdemeanor, but carries a $1,000 fine and the possibility of 1-45 days in jail. Possessing 1.6 oz of marijuana or more can land you in jail for 3-8 months and saddle you with a $1,000 fine.

Possession with intent to distribute

Possession of 10 lbs or more of marijuana, with the intent to distribute, is a felony. Punishments vary depending on exactly how much cannabis is seized but range from fines between $5,000 and $200,000 and jail time between 25 and 222 months.

Sale or Delivery

Selling or delivering less than 10 pounds of cannabis is a felony carrying a penalty of 4-8 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The severity of the punishment increases with the amount of marijuana that’s sold, topping out at 222 months in jail and a $200,000 fine.

It’s also worth noting that selling marijuana to a minor or a pregnant woman will automatically result in a felony charge and 3-8 years of jail time. Selling or delivering cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school, childcare center, or park is a felony that will land offenders in jail for 1-3 years.


Growing marijuana in North Carolina is a felony, regardless of how much is grown. Small grow operations that total less than 10 lbs will result in a $1,000 fine and 3-8 months in jail. Again, the punishments increase as the amount of cannabis grown increases but top out at $200,000 in fines and 14.5-18 years in jail for someone who’s convicted of growing 10,000 lbs of cannabis or more.

There are a number of smaller charges that can be handed down for things like paraphernalia, possession of concentrates, and other miscellaneous crimes involving marijuana. Additionally, some sentences may also include the stipulation that the accused must enroll in some form of drug treatment or counseling program.

Medical Marijuana

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in North Carolina?

Not yet, but that is likely to change soon. Several bills have been brought forth since 2014, but none have been successful. However, considering all of the states that have legalized medical marijuana since that time and growing support amongst residents, there is a good chance that HB401, the medical marijuana bill introduced in early 2019, will be successful.

HB401 will create the Medical Cannabis Act in North Carolina, which will allow patients to apply for a medical marijuana card if they meet certain eligibility requirements. HB401 also protects patients, as well as their doctors and caregivers, from prosecution or arrest for buying or possessing medical marijuana, as long as they purchase it from a state-sanctioned dispensary and don’t have more than 24 ounces in their possession at any given time.

The Medical Cannabis Act would also prohibit schools, employers, or landlords from refusing to enroll, employ, or lease to (or otherwise penalize) someone because of their status under the act. Additionally, anyone under the influence of medical cannabis is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat while impaired. If you’re interested in more details about North Carolina’s proposed Medical Cannabis Act, you can read HB401 here.

North Carolina Marijuana Criminal Defense Attorneys

Though we will keep an eye for updates in HB401, for now, cannabis use of any kind remains illegal in our state. If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of marijuana in North Carolina, or any other marijuana-related crime, it’s important to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Contact the Mulligan Attorneys ASAP to protect your rights and ensure you are represented fairly. Call us at 855-392-7752 for a free consultation or schedule your meeting online.