Nope, it still isn’t legal. As of the writing of this blog on June 11, 2021, marijuana, including recreational and medical, is still forbidden in North Carolina. However, some politicians are attempting to pass bills in the NC House and Senate to legalize weed.
Does this mean you can still be criminally charged with possessing marijuana?
Yes, unfortunately law enforcement officers are still issuing citations for possession of marijuana. Some district attorneys are still pursuing these cases, although some have taken a more liberal approach and are not actively prosecuting possession of marijuana under a half ounce.
If you are charged with possession of marijuana in Wake County, you may have options. If it’s your first non-traffic charge, you will likely be eligible for the 90-96 program. Under this program, you will complete an alcohol/drug assessment and then 15 hours of classes. Upon successful completion of the classes and payment of all program and court fees, the assistant district attorney will dismiss your case. You can then have the case expunged by filing a petition and paying a $175 fee to the Clerk of Court. Starting December 2021, the court will automatically expunge all cases dismissed after December 1, 2021, and you will not have to pay a fee to the Clerk.
If this is not your first criminal charge, you might still have options, such as a bench trial. At the misdemeanor level, the State of North Carolina does not test suspected marijuana to determine its THC content. An attorney can argue at trial that the substance the officer found you with is not necessarily be marijuana, but there is a reasonable doubt that it is legal hemp. Hemp contains .3% THC or less, and is legal to possess, buy, and sell in North Carolina. At the felony level, the prosecutor will likely send the substance to the State Bureau of Investigation lab for testing.
When will marijuana be legal in North Carolina?
That’s anyone’s guess. With Virginia legalizing weed Summer 2021, there may be a strong push on NC to legalize it next. Alternatively, if the federal government legalizes marijuana, it will be legal across the country.
Do I need a lawyer if I’m criminally charged with possession of marijuana?
Maybe. If you would like an attorney to guide you through the 90-96 program, yes. If you want to fight your charge in court, you absolutely need an attorney who is familiar with courtroom procedures in Wake County.
If you have been charged with marijuana possession or any other drug crime in Wake County, call William Pruden at 919-880-2124 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.