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North Carolina drug laws and penalties

On Behalf of The Law Firm of Brent D. Ratchford |

Every state has controlled substance laws to regulate certain drugs because of the potential danger. North Carolina drug laws are tougher than other states, even for the first offense. A person charged with a drug crime in Gaston County, North Carolina, may face several penalties, and it helps to know the law.

Overview of North Carolina drug law

North Carolina defines drug crimes under one law, which includes buying, selling, manufacturing, cultivation, possession, distribution and trafficking. Controlled substances are divided into five groups, or Schedules I to V, based on the potential for addiction.

Schedule I drugs, which include heroin, and cocaine, have the highest addictive potential with no approved medical or clinical use. As the Schedule number increases, the addiction risk lowers, and these lists include some legal prescriptions, such as ADHD drugs and codeine. While some controlled substances are legal, buying them from unlicensed vendors, or possessing or selling them without a license, is illegal.


The penalties for various drug offenses in North Carolina are based on past history and type and amount of drugs. The usual penalty for personal use possession of 5 ounces or less of Schedule I drugs is up to five years in jail and/or fines. Personal use of five ounces or less of a Schedule IV substance is a misdemeanor and carries a fine of $200.

Possession with intent to sell 10 to 49 pounds commonly carries a maximum $5,000 fine and 25 to 39 months of jail. The selling or delivery of 10 pounds or less of a controlled substance commonly includes a four-to-eight-month jail term and a $1,000 fine.

If the charges involve selling or trafficking between states, federal law may apply. Drug charges usually follow a person around, but such charges can be challenged in court.