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Yes, people still go to jail for marijuana in North Carolina

With the rapid change in public opinions about marijuana, more people than ever are either using marijuana or admitting to its use. However, many of these people are still breaking the law. That includes many thousands of residents of North Carolina. People face arrest and criminal charges every day as a result of simple marijuana possession, as well as cultivation and selling or intending to sell marijuana.

Some people face steeper risk than others. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, while black people make up just 22 percent of North Carolina's population, roughly 50 percent of all marijuana arrests involve black people. Despite the fact that there is a similar rate of usage across both races, black people in North Carolina are much more likely to end up arrested for it. Of course, anyone can get arrested if law enforcement catches them with marijuana, regardless of race.

North Carolina does have a decriminalization law on record

Since 1977, the state has had reduced penalties for those first-time offenders caught in possession of small amounts of marijuana. While this might make some people feel like North Carolina is progressive when it comes to marijuana offenses, that's not actually the case.

The decriminalization law in this state is actually relatively weak. Instead of protecting you from criminal prosecution or arrest, it allows for the possibility for a suspended sentence. The offense will not be a civil violation, but, rather, a misdemeanor that remains on your criminal record. North Carolina's medical CBD law is also relatively weak, does not provide for home cultivation and does not authorize retails sales of marijuana.

The penalties can become serious over time

First time offenders caught with less than half an ounce will likely only have to pay a $200 fine. Jail time associated with this Class 3 misdemeanor will likely get suspended. For those caught with between half an ounce and an ounce and a half, the charge increases to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries between one and 45 days in jail, as well as a fine of $1,000. For those caught in possession of more than 1.5 ounces and less than 10 pounds, the charge increases to a Class 1 felony that could mean between three and eight months in jail and a potential fine.

If the person accused of a marijuana offense has a previous criminal record involving marijuana, it is likely that he or she will end up facing harsher penalties. Those caught with scales or other paraphernalia that implies an intention to sell could face possession with intent charges. These are all serious offenses that can prevent you from receiving federal student aid and follow you around in the form of a criminal record for years to come.

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