What are the Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Charleston, SC?

A majority of U.S. states have now legalized marijuana possession for either recreational or medical use – South Carolina has not.

If you are found with marijuana in Charleston, SC, you will most likely be taken to jail and you will be facing criminal charges for drug possession. What are the penalties for marijuana offenses in SC?

Simple Possession of Marijuana in SC

Simple possession of marijuana is when you are found with less than an ounce, and the potential penalty depends on whether you have prior drug offenses on your record.

For a first offense simple possession of marijuana or hashish in SC, under SC Code Section 44-53-370, the maximum penalty is up to 30 days in jail. For a second offense, the potential sentence increases to one year.

That’s right – in SC, if you have a prior conviction, you could be sentenced to a year in prison for even a small amount of marijuana like a roach or shake in the bottom of a bag…

Possession with Intent to Distribute, Manufacturing, and Distribution of Marijuana in SC

If you are found with more than an ounce of marijuana in Charleston, SC, you will most likely be charged with possession with intent to distribute, even if the weed was for your personal use.

In SC, one ounce is the threshold amount that creates an inference that there is an intent to distribute – they still must prove that you intended to distribute the marijuana, which means they will need a statement from you, statements from other witnesses or co-defendants, or evidence of distribution like baggies, scales, or a ledger.

When the state cannot prove intent to distribute, the charges may be reduced (by the prosecutor, the court, or by the jurors at trial) to simple possession greater than one ounce.

Manufacturing, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana all carry the same potential penalties in SC:

  • First offense: up to five years in prison;
  • Second offense: up to ten years in prison; and
  • Third offense: a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison.

Trafficking Marijuana in Charleston, SC

Trafficking charges, even for marijuana, carry harsh penalties including mandatory minimum sentences. Anything over 10 pounds is considered trafficking – trafficking 10-100 pounds carries a mandatory minimum of one year in prison and up to 10 years in prison on a first offense.

Trafficking offenses for more than 100 pounds carry mandatory minimum sentences of as much as 30 years in prison – even on a first offense.

Marijuana Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

The times are changing, and South Carolina will catch up with them eventually. In the meantime, don’t get caught with marijuana in SC. If you do, don’t let an arrest turn into a conviction that may follow you for the rest of your life.

If you have been charged with a marijuana offense in the Charleston area, call SC marijuana defense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone now at (843) 808-2100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.