Lately our office has received several requests regarding the current status of South Carolina's marijuana laws. Although some states have updated their laws to allow possession of small amounts of marijuana for medical or even recreational purposes, South Carolina law still considers all marijuana possession to be a criminal offense. The most common offense is called
Simple Possession of Marijuana, or SPMJ. This is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to thirty days in jail. It is for possession of any amount up to one ounce. Repeat offenders face an enhanced penalty of up to one year in prison for the same offense.
Trafficking marijuana involves possession of more than ten pounds. Trafficking marijuana is a felony that at the base level caries a minimum of one year to maximum of ten in prison. We usually see these cases originate after traffic stops are made on the Interstate, or someone is growing marijuana at home (even if only for personal use). In South Carolina, you only have to be in possession of 10 pounds of marijuana to have it be considered trafficking; there is no requirement that you intended to sell, transfer, distribute, etc.
There are also other offenses that include Possession with Intent to Distribute, or PWID. This offense is usually given when someone has a small amount of marijuana spread out over several bags/containers, or is in possession of more than an ounce but less than 10 pounds. First offenders face a felony conviction and up to give years in prison.
Because all South Carolina marijuana offenses are criminal in nature, it is important that anyone charged contact a Lexington criminal lawyer before their court date. There are numerous options to prevent a conviction that include two types of diversion programs (conditional discharge or pre-trial intervention), as well as court challenges. Simply remitting the fine to the Court is treated the same as a guilty plea, and can result in lifetime complications as a result of a criminal record as well as the dissemination of your case information to private background search companies (who are not subject to South Carolina's expungement law).