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North Carolina Drug Laws

Last updated 1/13/2020

There are several illegal activities when it comes to drugs. These activities include drug manufacturing, cultivation, trafficking/distribution, and possession. There are both federal laws and state laws that relate to drugs, and sometimes these laws conflict with each other. Take for example marijuana. While it's still illegal under federal law, many states have either decriminalized or outright legalized marijuana. This means that although you may be in conformity with your state laws, you could still be prosecuted under federal laws under the doctrine of preemption.

In North Carolina, drug manufacturing, distribution, and possession are all addressed in one statute (law). This statute not only addresses prohibited behavior when it comes to drugs, but also lays out the penalties for violating the statute.

The penalties for violating North Carolina's drug laws will depend on a variety of factors, including the particular schedule that the drug falls into. For example, under North Carolina's drug laws, marijuana is a Schedule VI drug. Selling marijuana is a felony. Possession of a small amount of marijuana, however, is a misdemeanor. It's also important to note that it's not a violation of North Carolina's drug laws (specifically relating to the prohibition of delivering a controlled substance) to transfer less than 5 grams of marijuana to someone for free.

North Carolina Drug Laws Overview

Below you will find key provisions of drug laws in North Carolina.


North Carolina Statutes Article 5. Section 90-86, et seq. (North Carolina Controlled Substances Act)

What's Prohibited?

It's prohibited for anyone to:

  • Manufacture, sell, deliver, or possess with the intention to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance;
  • Create, sell, deliver, or possess with the intention to sell or deliver a counterfeit controlled substance;
  • Possess a controlled substance;
  • Possess a chemical with the intention to manufacture a controlled substance or meth; or
  • Possess or distribute a chemical knowing (or reasonably believing) it'll be used to manufacture a controlled substance or meth.
Charges and Penalties

The charges and penalties for violating this statute are very fact-specific. Please refer to Section 90-95 for details.

In addition, North Carolina's death by distribution law makes drug dealers accountable for overdose deaths related to the sales they made.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

North Carolina Drug Laws: Related Resources

If you'd like more information related to this topic, you can click on the links below:

Get Legal Help Fighting Your Drug Charges in North Carolina

The criminal charges you could face under North Carolina's drug laws vary from misdemeanors to felonies. However, a conviction -- even a misdemeanor -- could end up on your record and negatively impact your life. Whether you've been charged with drug manufacturing, distribution, or possession, it's a good idea to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss the facts of your case and to understand your options.

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