What are the penalties for drug possession in North Carolina?

What are the penalties for drug possession in North Carolina?

What are the penalties for drug possession in North Carolina?

On Behalf of The Law Office of Michael D. Cleaves, PLLC |

North Carolina can penalize possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia very harshly. While some possession charges are mere misdemeanors, others are felonies. The maximum penalty for a charge of possession depends on the type of drug and the amount that you possess.

Schedule I controlled substances are those with high abuse potential and no accepted medical uses. Schedule V controlled substances have medical uses and low abuse potential. Where a drug falls on the schedule of controlled substances can determine the penalties you may face if caught in possession of it.


Paraphernalia consists of materials and equipment intended to facilitate the production or use of illegal drugs. It includes objects such as pipes and syringes for administering the drugs, scales for weighing them and kits for manufacturing them. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum penalty of a fine and/or 120 days in prison.

Schedule VI substances

Schedule VI is a special designation in North Carolina for marijuana and related substances. Possessing synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol in any quantity, more than 3/20 of an ounce of hashish or 1-1/2 ounces of marijuana is a felony carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison.


Cocaine is a stimulant drug with high abuse potential and very limited medical uses. Despite being a Schedule II controlled substance, i.e., one that a physician can prescribe under certain circumstances, possession of at least one gram can send you to prison for five years on felony charges.

You can also face felony charges for possession of other Schedule II substances, but only in much greater quantities. Otherwise, possession of Schedule II substances is a misdemeanor incurring a $2,000 fine or two years’ imprisonment.

Schedule I substances

Schedule I substances combine high abuse potential with a lack of accepted medical uses. Examples include LSD and heroin. Possession of a Schedule I substance in any amount is a felony that can land you in prison for five years.

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