As long as pot is illegal in South Carolina, you need to be aware of what types of charges you could face if you find yourself being arresting for a marijuana charge.
But first, you should know how “Marijuana” is defined by South Carolina law. S.C. Code § 44-53-110(27) states:
(i) all species or variety of the marijuana plant and all parts thereof whether growing or not;
(ii) the seeds of the marijuana plant;
(iii) the resin extracted from any part of the marijuana plant; or
(iv) every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the marijuana plant, marijuana seeds, or marijuana resin.
“Marijuana” does not mean:
(i) the mature stalks of the marijuana plant or fibers produced from these stalks;
(ii) oil or cake made from the seeds of the marijuana plant, including cannabidiol derived from the seeds of the marijuana plant;
(iii) any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivatives, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), including cannabidiol derived from mature stalks;
(iv) the sterilized seed of the marijuana plant which is incapable of germination;
(v) for persons participating in a clinical trial or in an expanded access program related to administering cannabidiol for the treatment of severe forms of epilepsy pursuant to Article 18, Chapter 53, Title 44, a drug or substance approved for the use of those participants by the federal Food and Drug Administration; or
(vi) for persons, or the persons’ parents, legal guardians, or other caretakers, who have received a written certification from a physician licensed in this State that the person has been diagnosed by a physician as having Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, also known as “severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy”, or any other severe form of epilepsy that is not adequately treated by traditional medical therapies, the substance cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of any plant of the genus cannabis that contains nine-tenths of one percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol and more than fifteen percent of cannabidiol.
The five charges most generally associated with the possession of marijuana are as follows:
1. Possession of drug paraphernalia
2. Simple possession of marijuana (28 grams or less)
3. Possession of marijuana (greater than 1 ounce)
4. Possession with intent to distribute (PWID)
5. Trafficking marijuana
1. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
S.C. Code § 44-53-110 states:
“Paraphernalia” means any instrument, device, article, or contrivance used, designed for use, or intended for use in ingesting, smoking, administering, manufacturing, or preparing a controlled substance and does not include cigarette papers and tobacco pipes but includes, but is not limited to:
(a) metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic marijuana or hashish pipes with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls;
(b) water pipes designed for use or intended for use with marijuana, hashish, hashish oil, or cocaine;
(c) carburetion tubes and devices;
(d) smoking and carburetion masks;
(e) roach clips;
(f) separation gins designed for use or intended for use in cleaning marijuana;
(g) cocaine spoons and vials;
(h) chamber pipes;
(i) carburetor pipes;
(j) electric pipes;
(k) air-driven pipes;
(n) ice pipes or chillers.
A person found guilty of violating laws regarding the possession of drug paraphernalia is subject to a civil fine of not more than $500.
2. Simple Possession of Marijuana
If you’re caught with at least 28 grams (1 ounce) of marijuana, you can be charged with possession of marijuana.
A simple possession charge is considered a misdemeanor and can result in up to 30 days in jail and/or a $100-$200 fine.
The penalty for possession of a marijuana can increase depending on whether this is the first conviction or not. For example, a conviction for possession of marijuana (28 grams or less) (second offense) can result in up to one year in jail or $200-$1,000 fine.
3. Possession of Marijuana (Greater than 1 ounce)
In order to be charged with Possession of Marijuana (greater than 1 ounce) the amount of marijuana must weigh more than 28 grams and there must be no indication of an intent to distribute the marijuana.
Possession of Marijuana Greater than One Ounce (First Offense) can result in up to 6 months in jail and/or $1,000 fine. For a second offense, it can result in up to 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fine.
4. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana
If you’ve been caught with marijuana that weighs between 28 grams (1 ounce) and 10 pounds, you can be charged with possession with intent to distribute (PWID). Technically, an officer can charge you with PWID even if the amount is less than 28 grams if there are other indicators of probable cause of an intent to distribute the marijuana. Nonetheless, in all cases, if you’re charged with PWID, then the officer must have probable cause that you intended to deliver the weed to someone else and/or do more with the pot than simply have it for personal use.
Penalties for PWID are based on your previous offenses.
Offense Classification Jail Time Fine
First offense Felony Up to 5 years Up to $5,000
Second offense Felony Up to 10 years Up to $10,000
Third offense Felony 5-20 years Up to $20,000
5. Trafficking in Marijuana
S.C. Code § 44-53-370 states:
Any person who knowingly sells, manufactures, cultivates, delivers, purchases, or brings into this State, or who provides financial assistance or otherwise aids, abets, attempts, or conspires to sell, manufacture, cultivate, deliver, purchase, or bring into this State, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession or who knowingly attempts to become in actual or constructive possession of:
(1) ten pounds or more of marijuana is guilty of a felony which is known as “trafficking in marijuana” and, upon conviction, must be punished as follows if the quantity involved is:
(a) ten pounds or more, but less than one hundred pounds:
1. for a first offense, a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than ten years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of ten thousand dollars;
2. for a second offense, a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than twenty years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of fifteen thousand dollars;
3. for a third or subsequent offense, a mandatory term of imprisonment of twenty-five years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars;
(b) one hundred pounds or more, but less than two thousand pounds, or one hundred to one thousand marijuana plants regardless of weight, a mandatory term of imprisonment of twenty-five years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars;
(c) two thousand pounds or more, but less than ten thousand pounds, or more than one thousand marijuana plants, but less than ten thousand marijuana plants regardless of weight, a mandatory term of imprisonment of twenty-five years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of fifty thousand dollars;
(d) ten thousand pounds or more, or ten thousand marijuana plants, or more than ten thousand marijuana plants regardless of weight, a term of imprisonment of not less than twenty-five years nor more than thirty years with a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of twenty-five years, no part of which may be suspended nor probation granted, and a fine of two hundred thousand dollars;
|10 – 99 lbs||First offense||Felony||1 – 10 years||Up to $10,000|
|10 – 99 lbs||Second offense||Felony||5 – 20 years||Up to $15,000|
|10 – 99 lbs||Third offense||Felony||25 years||$25,000|
|100 -1,999 lbs||Any offense||Felony||25 years||$25,000|
|2,000 – 9,999 lbs||Any offense||Felony||25 years||$50,000|
|10,000 lbs or more||Any offense||Felony||25 – 30 years with a mandatory minimum of 25 years||$200,000|