While several states in the South have made motions to legalize the use of cannabis, North Carolina is behind on the times. Currently it is illegal to hold and/or use marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
Residents and visitors caught with any amount of marijuana in North Carolina will be faced with punishments including incarceration, fines, or forced drug addiction treatment. Even those holding smaller amounts of marijuana can potentially be facing fines up to $2,000. In fact, possession of 0.5 to 1.5 ounces of cannabis is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable with 1 to 45 days in prison and a fine of $1,000. These punishments and crimes increase depending on the amount of cannabis, the intentions of the arrested party, and who the arrested party was planning on selling the cannabis to. For example, sale or delivery to a minor or pregnant woman faces harsher sentencing than sale or delivery to an adult over the age of 21.
With such strict punishments in place for carrying minor amounts of cannabis, the public has responded with a strong push for more accepting laws. As a result, there is currently a bill in place, that if passed would allow for residents of North Carolina to purchase medicinal marijuana with the proper certification. The bill is still working its way through the legislative process, however, if the bill passes patients will have to have their physician certify that they have one or more medical conditions found on the qualifying medical list, and that their current condition could benefit from the use of medicinal cannabis.
The passing of this bill would make a large difference in the lives of many patients who currently cannot receive the treatment they need. In some cases residents have even relocated to other states where medicinal marijuana treatment has been legalized. If you or someone close to you is awaiting the legalization of medical marijuana, we recommend staying up to date on the progression of this current bill and refraining from purchasing any form of cannabis until the new laws have been fully developed.