Drug Offenses

Marijuana possession, cocaine possession, drug paraphernalia, drug trafficking,  prescription drug offenses.

NORML

Drug Crime Penalties
Drug offense penalties can be very serious. You could end up in county jail or state prison. Your car or anything else linked to the drug crime could be taken away (Forfeiture Proceedings). You could lose your driver’s license, have to pay a fine, supervised probation, drug treatment, community service, and any combination of these things. A drug conviction on your record will be seen by future employers, school applications, gun permits, some hospital records, military, professional associations and licenses, child care decisions, renting apartments and houses, obtaining credit,

 

How the officer came to discover that you were in possession of drugs involves constitutional issues of search and seizure. You have certain rights that the state cannot violate, or it may be possible to suppress evidence they have against you.  Each drug case we take begins with a brief interview to explore the broad fact situation, and then hones in on areas where we may be able to accomplish the most good.  There are a number of different areas that I may wish to explore regarding the incident. Some of the areas I may need to explore with you include:

 

Why did the officer stop you, contact you, or come to your house?

What did the officer say to you?

Did the officer talk to anyone else?

Was the house your own house? Was the car your own car?

Did the officer find drugs as a result of a search? Did you allow the search? Did the officer say something to induce you to allow him to search?

Did you confess? Did you confess to “owning” the drugs found?

Who else was with you? How were those people acting?

Have you ever been charged with a drug offense before?

Do you use drugs regularly, or was this an odd occasion?

Would you have trouble passing a drug test?

Do you use any drugs for medicinal reasons, or just recreationally?

 

Once we have explored your case in an interview, I will examine paperwork and discuss the case with the officer, and sometimes other witnesses to the case. We then can make an educated decision how to handle the case. In some cases we may want to move to suppress some evidence. In other case we may have a full trial on the facts. In still other cases, there may be other charges that the state could prove, and we may decide to negotiate with the state to proceed on some charges and not on others. There may be programs we can take advantage of in order to keep the charge from resulting in a conviction without having to have a trial. And, in some cases, it may be that reasons exist for the state to dismiss the case.

Charges can be more serious if they occur near a school zone,involve a minor, give rise to an inferrence that they are being sold, or are part of a continuing criminal enterprise, among other factors.

 




		

FELONY-   OBTAIN CS BY FRAUD/FORGERY (F),   NCGS  90-108(A)(10)  ||  FELONY-   ATT OBTAIN CS FORGERY/FRAUD(F),   NCGS  90-108(A)(10)  ||  FELONY-   OBT CS PRESCRIP MISREP/WITHHLD,   NCGS  90-108(A)(13)  ||  FELONY-   EMBEZZLE CS BY EMPLOYEE OF REG,   NCGS  90-108(A)(14)  ||  FELONY-   EMBEZZLE CS BY EMPLOYEE OF REG,   NCGS  90-108(A)(14)  ||  FELONY-   MAINTN VEH/DWELL/PLACE CS (F),   NCGS  90-108(A)(7)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   MAINTN VEH/DWELL/PLACE CS (M),   NCGS  90-108(A)(7)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   TREATMENT W/O REQ LICENSE,   NCGS  90-109  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   INHALE TOXIC VAPORS,   NCGS  90-113.10  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   POSS TOXIC VAPORS SUBSTANCE,   NCGS  90-113.11  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SELL TOXIC VAPORS SUBSTANCE,   NCGS  90-113.12  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   POSSESS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA,   NCGS  90-113.22(A)  ||  FELONY-   EXCEED PSEUDO LIMITS 3+ OFFELONY-     NCGS  90-113.53  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   EXCEED PSEUDO LIMITS,   NCGS  90-113.53  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   EXCEED PSEUDO LIMITS 2 OFFELONY-     NCGS  90-113.53  ||  FELONY-   PRACT MEDICINE W/ NON-NC LIC,   NCGS  90-18(A)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   PRACTICE MEDICINE W/O LICENSE,   NCGS  90-18(A)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   PRACTICE PHARMACY W/O LICENSE,   NCGS  90-85.21B  ||  FELONY-   PWISD MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-95(A)  ||  FELONY-   PWISD COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)  ||  FELONY-   P/W/S/D METHAQUALONE/QUAALUDE,   NCGS  90-95(A)  ||  FELONY-   SELL MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TO SELL MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TO DELIVER MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWISD MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TO SELL MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE DELIVER MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWISD MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSP DEL SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUF SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWISD SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TO SELL/DELIVER MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DELIVER MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DEL SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DEL SYNTH CANNABIN,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER SCH II CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER SCH III CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER SCH IV CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER SCH V CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD MDA/MDMA,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD MDA/MDMA,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER HEROIN,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL HEROIN,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL LSD,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL SCH II CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL SCH III CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL SCH IV CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL SCH V CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL/DELIVER LSD,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER HEROIN,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER LSD,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER SCH II CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER SCH III CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER SCH IV CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER SCH V CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   SELL METHAMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   DELIVER METHAMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD METHAMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE SCH II CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE SCH III CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE SCH IV CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE SCH V CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD SCH II CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD SCH III CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD SCH IV CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD SCH V CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   PWIMSD HEROIN,   NCGS  90-95(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CREATE COUNTERFEIT CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(2)  ||  FELONY-   SELL OR DELIVER COUNTERFEIT CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(2)  ||  FELONY-   PWISD COUNTERFEIT CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(2)  ||  FELONY-   ATTEMPT POSS MDPV-FELONY,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   POSSESS MDPV-FELONY,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   POSSESS MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   ATTEMPT POSSESS MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   FEL POSS SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   ATT POSS SYNTH CANNABINOID-FELONY-     NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   POSSESS METHAMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   FELONY POSSESSION SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   FELONY POSSESSION SCH II CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   FELONY POSSESSION SCH III CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   FELONY POSSESSION SCH IV CS,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SIMPLE POSS MDPV-MISD,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   ATTEMPT POSS MDPV-MISD,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SYNTH CANNABINOID POSS<=7G,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SYNTH CANNABINOID POSS>7-21G,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   ATT POSS SYNTH CANNABIN<=7G,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   ATT POSS SYNTH CANNABIN>7-21G,   NCGS  90-95(A)(3)  ||  FELONY-   MANUFACTURE METHAMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-95(B)(1A)  ||  FELONY-   POSSESS HEROIN,   NCGS  90-95(D)(1)  ||  FELONY-   POSSESSION OF LSD,   NCGS  90-95(D)(1)  ||  FELONY-   FELONY POSSESSION OF COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(D)(2)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SIMPLE POSSESS SCH II CS (M),   NCGS  90-95(D)(2)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SIMPLE POSSESS SCH III CS (M),   NCGS  90-95(D)(2)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SIMPLE POSSESS SCH IV CS (M),   NCGS  90-95(D)(2)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SIMPLE POSSESS SCH V CS (M),   NCGS  90-95(D)(3)  ||  FELONY-   FELONY POSSESSION SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-95(D)(4)  ||  FELONY-   FELONY POSSESSION MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-95(D)(4)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   POSS MARIJ >1/2 TO 1 1/2 OZ,   NCGS  90-95(D)(4)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   SIMPLE POSSESS SCH VI CS (M),   NCGS  90-95(D)(4)  ||  MISDEMEANOR-   POSSESS MARIJUANA UP TO 1/2 OZ,   NCGS  90-95(D)(4)  ||  FELONY-   POSS/DIST PRECURSOR CHEMICAL,   NCGS  90-95(D1)  ||  FELONY-   POSS PSEUDO/PRIOR METH CONV,   NCGS  90-95(D1)(1)C  ||  FELONY-   POSS/DISTRIBUTE METH PRECURSOR,   NCGS  90-95(D1)(2)  ||  FELONY-   M/S/D/P CS W/N 1000FT OF PARK,   NCGS  90-95(E)(10)  ||  FELONY-   SELL OR DELIV CS MINOR >13-<16,   NCGS  90-95(E)(5)  ||  FELONY-   SELL OR DELIV CS MINOR <=13,   NCGS  90-95(E)(5)  ||  FELONY-   M/S/D/P CS W/N 1000FT SCHOOL,   NCGS  90-95(E)(8)  ||  FELONY-   M/S/D/P CS AT CHILD CARE CTR,   NCGS  90-95(E)(8)  ||  FELONY-   POSS CS PRISON/JAIL PREMISES,   NCGS  90-95(E)(9)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICKING IN MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-95(H)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TO TRAFFIC IN MARIJ,   NCGS  90-95(H)(1)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFIC SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(H)(1A)  ||  FELONY-   CONSP TRAF SYNTH CANNABINOID,   NCGS  90-95(H)(1A)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICKING IN METHAQUALONE,   NCGS  90-95(H)(2)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TRAFFIC METHAQUALONE,   NCGS  90-95(H)(2)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICKING IN COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(H)(3)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TO TRAFFIC IN COCAINE,   NCGS  90-95(H)(3)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICK IN METHAMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-95(H)(3B)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICK IN AMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-95(H)(3C)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICKING MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(H)(3D)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TRAFFIC IN MDPV,   NCGS  90-95(H)(3D)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICKING MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(H)(3E)  ||  FELONY-   CONSP TRAFFIC IN MEPHEDRONE,   NCGS  90-95(H)(3E)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TRAFFIC OPIUM/HEROIN,   NCGS  90-95(H)(4)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICKING IN LSD,   NCGS  90-95(H)(4A)  ||  FELONY-   TRAFFICKING IN MDA/MDMA,   NCGS  90-95(H)(4B)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TRAFFIC AMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-95(I)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TRAFFIC METHAMPHETAMI,   NCGS  90-95(I)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TRAFFIC LSD,   NCGS  90-95(I)  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE TRAFFIC MDA/MDMA,   NCGS  90-95(I)  ||  FELONY-   CONTINUING CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE,   NCGS  90-95.1  ||  FELONY-   CS HIRE/USE MINOR>13 DEF 18<21,   NCGS  90-95.4(A)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CS HIRE/USE MINOR<=13 DEF18<21,   NCGS  90-95.4(A)(2)  ||  FELONY-   CS HIRE/USE MINOR >13 DEF >=21,   NCGS  90-95.4(B)(1)  ||  FELONY-   CS HIRE/USE MINOR<=13 DEF>=21,   NCGS  90-95.4(B)(2)  ||  FELONY-   PROMOTE DRUG SALES BY A MINOR,   NCGS  90-95.6  ||  FELONY-   PARTICIP IN DRUG VIOL BY MINOR,   NCGS  90-95.7  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DELIVER MARIJUANA,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DELIVER SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DELIVER SCH II CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DELIVER SCH III CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DELIVER SCH IV CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DELIVER SCH V CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL/DELIVER COCAINE,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL/DELIVER HEROIN,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSP SELL/DELIVER SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL/DELIVER LSD,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   ATTEMPTED POSSESSION COCAINE,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL METHAMPHETAMINE,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE DELIVER METH,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL MARIJ,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL COCAINE,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL HEROIN,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL LSD,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE SELL SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE DELIVER MARIJ,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE DELIVER COCAINE,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE DELIVER HEROIN,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE DELIVER LSD,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE DELIVER SCH I CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||  FELONY-   CONSPIRE DELIVER SCH VI CS,   NCGS  90-98  ||    ||

A new law was passed and ratified in 2011, which creates three new Schedule I drugs, defines certain synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule VI drugs, and makes several other changes to the drug statutes. (The federal government had already taken action on synthetic cannabinoids, as discussed here.) The law is effective July June 1, earlier than the December 1 effective date that the General Assembly typically uses. The following is adapted from John Rubin’s summary of the law:

Generally. Effective for offenses committed on or after July June 1, 2011, the act adds four substances to the controlled substance schedules and creates new controlled substance offenses based on those substances, including trafficking offenses for three of the drugs.

Additional controlled substances. Amended G.S. 90-89(5) includes three new substances as Schedule I controlled substances, which generally carry the most serious criminal penalties: 4-methylmethcathinone (also known as mephedrone): 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (also known as MDPV); and a compound, other than buproprion, that is structurally derived from 2-amino-1-phenyl-1-propanone by modification in one of several specified ways. Amended G.S. 90-94 adds synthetic cannabinoids (as defined in new subsection (3) of G.S. 90-94) as a Schedule VI controlled substance.

New controlled substance offenses. Possession of any Schedule I controlled substance, including the above-described controlled substances, remains a Class I felony under G.S. 90-95(a)(3) and 90-95(d)(1), except that possession of one gram or less of MDPV is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Possession of synthetic cannabinoids or any mixture containing that substance are classified as follows under G.S. 90-95(a)(3) and 90-95(d)(4): a Class 3 misdemeanor for seven grams or less; a Class 1 misdemeanor for more than seven and up to 21 grams or less; and a Class I felony for more than 21 grams. Manufacture, sale, or delivery of synthetic cannabinoids, or possession with intent to do so, is a Class H felony (Class I if a sale) under G.S. 90-95(a)(1) and 90-95(b)(3), except the transfer of less than 2.5 grams of that substance or any mixture containing that substance for no remuneration does not constitute delivery. The threshold quantities for synthetic cannabinoids are approximately half the threshold quantities for marijuana, perhaps reflecting a legislative determination that synthetic cannabinoids are more potent.

New trafficking offenses. New G.S. 90-95(h)(3d) creates the offense of trafficking in MDPV, new G.S. 90-95(h)(3e) creates the offense of trafficking in mephedrone, and new G.S. 90-95(h)(1a) creates the offense of trafficking in synthetic cannabinoids, all classified and punishable as indicated in the new statutes.

I don’t have any special expertise regarding synthetic cannabinoids, but I wonder if the statutes will be able to keep up with the science. A commenter on the High Times website claims that “there are over one hundred synthetic cannabinoids, and DEA only banned five of them.” And an NPR article suggests that “it seems likely that some manufacturers will try to adapt their formulas so they include cannabinoid chemicals other than [those banned by the federal government].” If that’s correct, the situation may become reminiscent of the game of cat-and-mouse between the General Assembly and the manufacturers of electronic sweepstakes machines and software.

Drug Crime Penalties

Drug offense penalties can be very serious. You could end up in county jail or state prison. Your car or anything else linked to the drug crime could be taken away (Forfeiture Proceedings). You could lose your driver’s license, have to pay a fine, supervised probation, drug treatment, community service, and any combination of these things. A drug conviction on your record will be seen by future employers, School applications, gun permits, some hospital records, military, professional associations and licenses, child care decisions, renting apartments and houses, obtaining credit,
How the officer came to discover that you were in possession of drugs involves constitutional issues of search and seizure. You have certain rights that the state cannot violate, or it may be possible to suppress evidence they have against you. There are a number of different areas that I may wish to explore regarding the incident. Some of the areas I may need to explore with you include:

Why did the officer stop you, contact you, come to your house?

What did the officer say to you?

Did the officer talk to anyone else?

Was the house your own house? Was the car your own car?

Did the officer find drugs as a result of a search? Did you allow the search? Did the officer say something to induce you to allow him to search?

Did you confess? Did you confess to “owning” the drugs found?

Who else was with you? How were those people acting?

Have you ever been charged with a drug offense before?

Do you use drugs regularly, or was this an odd occasion?

Would you have trouble passing a drug test?

Do you use any drugs for medicinal reasons, or just recreationally?

Once we have explored your case in an interview, I will examine paperwork and discuss the case with the officer, and sometimes other witnesses to the case. We then can make an educated decision how to handle the case. In some cases we may want to move to suppress some evidence. In other case we may have a full trial on the facts. In still other cases, there may be other charges that the state could prove, and we may decide to negotiate with the state to proceed on some charges and not on others. There may be programs we can take advantage of in order to keep the charge from resulting in a conviction without having to have a trial. And, in some cases, it may be that reasons exist for the state to dismiss the case.

According to a recent New York Times article, driving under the influence of marijuana is less hazardous than driving with a .08 blood alcohol concentration.  Impairment from marijuana is also difficult to detect using Standardized Field Sobriety tests.  An officer certified as a DRE (drug recognition expert) might disagree, but studies done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) bear out the difficulty of detection.  Marijuana impaired driving is also difficult to confirm through subsequent laboratory tests.  Several states are currently using or looking to establish a per se limit for blood-THC content or devising roadside tests to detect for marijuana impairment.

Drivers impaired by alcohol tend to overestimate their skills and drive faster.  Drivers impaired by marijuana do the opposite. Therefore, it appears that driving stoned is less risky (but not without risk) than alcohol impaired driving.   Studies estimate that drivers who are stoned are twice as likely to crash.  A 20-year-old driver who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, in contrast, is almost 20 times more likely to be in a fatal accident than a sober driver.

Testing the blood for marijuana impairment is difficult due in part to the physiology of the active ingredient in marijuana, THC.  THC metabolites can still appear in a drivers blood days or weeks after smoking it. The impairing effect is usually long gone before the THC metabolites have been eliminated by the body. The levels of THC in a persons blood also depends in large part on that individuals pattern of use, not on their current level of impairment. That is to say, a regular user (whether for medical or recreational purposes) will often show high levels of THC long after use, just as a casual user might show only minutes or hours after use.    Therefore,  it is difficult to establish a relationship between a specified blood concentration and performance impairing effects.

North Carolina does not have a per se THC impairment level, but driving while stoned is still very illegal in this state under the second prong of the DWI statute- it is illegal to drive when the individuals physical and mental faculties are “appreciably impaired” by some “impairing substance”, such as marijuana.

NHTSA reports that epidemiology data from road traffic arrests and fatalities indicate that after alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently detected psychoactive substance among driving populations. Marijuana has been shown to impair performance on driving simulator tasks and on open and closed driving courses for up to approximately 3 hours. Decreased car handling performance, increased reaction times, impaired time and distance estimation, inability to maintain headway, lateral travel, subjective sleepiness, motor incoordination, and impaired sustained vigilance have all been reported. Some drivers may actually be able to improve performance for brief periods by overcompensating for self-perceived impairment. The greater the demands placed on the driver, however, the more critical the likely impairment. Marijuana may particularly impair monotonous and prolonged driving. Decision times to evaluate situations and determine appropriate responses increase. Mixing alcohol and marijuana may dramatically produce effects greater than either drug on its own.

 

Marijuana

Simple Possession of Marijuana has been somewhat “decriminalized” in North Carolina. The charge is now a class 3 misdemeanor, meaning that no jail time is authorized unless the defendant has five or more prior convictions.  Collateral consequences of the charge can still be very harsh.

Marijuana Paraphernalia

In 2014, the General assembly also created the new charge of “Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia”, and also classified this as a Class 3 Misdemeanor. Punishment will generally only be a fine unless the defendant has 5 or more prior convictions.

Permanent Record of Conviction

However, convictions of Class 3 misdemeanors such as these will still appear on your permanent record, and could have serious consequences when applying for jobs, school, or housing. The crime may be widely thought of as a victimless crime,  but there is definitely still a victim- the defendant. Legal assistance with victimless crimes can prevent you from being victimized a second time by your permanent record.

Cocaine

In North Carolina, possession of ANY AMOUNT of cocaine is a Felony- also, having cocaine or its metabolites in your system can subject you to charges of impaired driving, whether you seem impaired or not.

This includes powder cocaine, crack cocaine, whether by the kilo, or by the fraction of a gram. Conviction of a Felony results in the loss of many rights you otherwise have, including the right to vote, own a firearm, hold many types of employment, and remain free, although some of these rights can be later restored.

Additionally, those convicted of a felony face reduced employment opportunities, and reduced availability of credit and housing.

In some cases, first offenders may have the ability to defer their charges, have their cases heard through a drug court, or go through certain programs that result in the eventual dismissal of the charge, or modification to a misdemeanor charge. Knowing what things to do to do before court in order to minimize your charge can be critical in preserving your rights, your freedom, and your future

Prescription Drugs

Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older.

Enhanced Criminal Penalties

North Carolina has passed several laws targeted specifically at prescription drugs.   Prescription Drugs must legally be in their original container. Prescription drugs are weighed based on total weight, not just the weight of the active ingredient- So traffic charges can result from just a few pills.

 

Paraphernalia

Paraphernalia can be anything used to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, package, repackage, store, contain, or conceal a controlled substance, or to inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the body.

Possession of some substances can be either misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount.

The state can issue a fine for unpaid taxes on drugs, creating a financial penalty even if the charge is disposed of otherwise than by conviction. This “tax” is levied by the NC Department of Revenue, is based on the total weight of the contraband, and like any other tax debt, can result in a financial burden that can last a lifetime.  More information on this tax can be found HERE