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Is Marijuana Illegal in South Carolina in 2023?

Is Marijuana Illegal in South Carolina in 2023?

What Are the Penalties for Marijuana Possession in South Carolina?

When asked to imagine a criminal, most tend to picture individuals convicted of murder, fraud, embezzlement, theft, sex crimes, and other disturbing offenses. Given that a whopping two-thirds of the U.S. is in favor of legalizing marijuana, it goes without saying that the average American is unlikely to picture Bob Marley or Snoop Dogg as vicious criminals, especially ones deserving of harsh sentencing.

Regardless, it’s entirely possible to face harsh criminal penalties when charged with marijuana possession or other drug-related crime in South Carolina. While some U.S. states have fully or partially legalized cannabis products, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, making it all the more crucial for state residents to understand the state-specific drug laws that may apply in their region.

Keep reading to learn about marijuana possession charges and other drug-related laws in South Carolina.

Is Marijuana Still Illegal in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, marijuana is still fully illegal. Unlike other states that have exceptions for medical reasons, meaning that individuals who suffer from eligible health conditions may request a prescription for medicinal marijuana from their physician, South Carolina makes no such exceptions.

Because both recreational and medicinal marijuana use is prohibited, it’s especially imperative for residents to know their rights to avoid violating state criminal laws, accidentally or otherwise. The legal repercussions for marijuana possession can be harsh. Defendants can face serious penalties if convicted, including jail time and high fines.

Common Types of Marijuana Offenses

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Possession of any amount of marijuana can result in criminal charges in South Carolina. Common types of marijuana-related offenses and associated criminal penalties include:

Marijuana Trafficking

Marijuana trafficking involves the sale, transportation, or distribution of marijuana and is considered a serious drug offense in South Carolina. The criminal penalties for marijuana trafficking in South Carolina are determined based on the amount of marijuana involved, but all include a mandatory prison sentence. This means that if you are facing a trafficking charge, you will be sentenced to prison unless the charge is successfully reduced or dismissed. 

Marijuana Manufacturing

Marijuana manufacturing involves the growing, processing, or producing of marijuana plants with the intention of distributing or selling the drug. In South Carolina, manufacturing marijuana is considered a felony offense and is punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years or up to $5,000 in fines.

Marijuana Possession

Possessing any amount of marijuana can result in criminal charges. For amounts under 1 ounce, the charge is a misdemeanor with up to 30 days in jail and/or fines up to $200. Amounts over 1 ounce are considered prima facie evidence of sale, which carries much harsher penalties and includes potential possible prison time.

Simple Possession of Marijuana

Defendants can be charged with simple possession of marijuana when caught in possession of 1 oz (28 grams) or less. This is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $100-200 in fines.

3 Ways to Defend Against Marijuana Charges

From helping yourself to a seemingly normal brownie to forgetting about the cannabis gummies stashed in your glove compartment while crossing state lines, there are many reasons why good people can face charges for marijuana possession.

While the criminal penalties for drug crimes can be severe in South Carolina, it’s possible to defend against marijuana charges in court with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, as they can use their in-depth knowledge of criminal law and its various nuances to fortify your case with sufficient evidence and guide your legal steps accordingly in the courtroom.

Consider these common strategies to defend against marijuana charges in South Carolina:

  1. Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) – This helpful program can be an excellent option for defendants with little to no prior offenses on their criminal record. After completing the PTI program, the marijuana charges can be dismissed and the arrest expunged. The defendant isn’t required to plead guilty or not guilty of the crime.
  2. Conditional Discharge – Similarly to PTI, a conditional discharge is a special program that can help defendants to get the charges against them dismissed and the arrest record expunged. Directly supervised by the court, requirements include random drug testing, community service, and drug counseling.
  3. Contested Case – This involves the defendant and their defense attorney challenging certain components of the case. Examples include arguing that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated by law enforcement during an unlawful search and seizure, fighting to get unlawful evidence dismissed from the case, and procedural errors (such as improper measurements or testing of substances).

Will South Carolina Legalize Marijuana in 2023?

While recreational and medicinal marijuana use are both illegal in South Carolina, it’s worth noting that there are several bills in the Statehouse that could change that for state residents in the near future. Read on to learn more about proposed legislation for marijuana reform in South Carolina.

South Carolina Compassionate Care Act

Senate Bill 423, also known as The Compassionate Care Act, would legalize THC for medical purposes in South Carolina, ensuring eligible patients’ access to medicinal marijuana with a prescription from a licensed physician. This bill already passed the Senate Medical Affairs Committee earlier in 2023.

Legislation to Decriminalize Marijuana

Currently, multiple bills seek to decriminalize marijuana in South Carolina. This doesn’t mean that marijuana would be available for recreational use, as it would remain illegal, but it would reduce the severity of penalties for marijuana offenses on a statewide level. Part of the legislation includes:

  • H3561 – This bill seeks to amend the controlled substance offenses and penalties included in §44-53-370, §44-53-375, and §44-53-450 of the South Carolina Code of Laws to reduce criminal penalties to civil penalties, permitting law enforcement to issue civil citations for those possessing no more than 1 oz of marijuana.
  • H3803 – This bill seeks to amend §44-53-370 of the SC Code, decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses entailing no more than 28 grams (1 oz) of marijuana on their person.

Aggressively Defending Your American Freedom

At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, we know that even the best of people can make honest mistakes. That’s why our criminal defense attorneys are committed to clearing your name and preserving your well-earned reputation. From DUI defense to probation violations, you can count on us to provide the strong representation you rightfully deserve in court. Reach out to our experienced legal advocates today to discuss your case and take the first step toward restoring your freedom.

Turn to a criminal defense lawyer you can trust to safeguard your hard-earned reputation. Call (803) 359-3301 to schedule a consultation.


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