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You thought a little marijuana couldn’t hurt anyone, and in all fairness, it’s arguably less damaging to society than alcohol. But you got busted, and now you’re in trouble.

I’m sure you’ll agree the occasional use of recreational drugs probably hasn’t led you down a path of crippling addiction. However, now you face a criminal charge because of it and need to know what to do.

Drug laws in SC are complicated, but a drug charge attorney can help you understand your charge and explain how to put forth the strongest defense possible. Your attorney can explore how the police obtained evidence against you, how that evidence has been handled and what happened during your arrest. These details can make or break your case.

Unfortunately, when it comes to drug offenses, past convictions can complicate matters even more. If you were convicted of a drug offense in the past, your current charge could be worse simply because of your history. Even if your prior drug charge was connected to a different drug, your past can be used to enhance your new charge.

In South Carolina, marijuana offenses (like most other drug offenses) are sometimes called “crimes of enhancement.” This means that if someone is charged with possession with intent to distribute (PWID), for example, and that person already has a conviction for a previous drug offense, then the charge can be PWID 2nd offense, which carries greater penalties than a first offense. Even if your charge was relatively minor, it can escalate later to a more serious offense.

While some people think all drug charges are basically the same, it just isn’t so. There are a variety of charges that can be brought against you based on what the police accuse you of doing. Let’s look at the most common charges.


The consequences of marijuana possession depend on several different factors, including how much you were carrying and what you intended to do with the drugs.

1 oz or less (first offense) Misdemeanor Up to 30 days $200
1 oz or less (subsequent offense) Misdemeanor Up to 1 year $2000

In addition to the penalties described above, someone who purchases any amount of marijuana within a half mile of a school or public park will also face a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail or both. (See: S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-445(D)(2))

Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID)

If you’re found to be in possession of an amount of marijuana exceeding 28 grams, or you’re otherwise determined to be intending to sell drugs, you can be charged with possession with the intent to distribute (PWID).

But the amount you’re caught with isn’t the only thing used in deciding this charge. Additional factors include:

  • The presence of scales or other measuring devices,
  • Having the marijuana in separate containers or bags, or
  • Text messages or other communication that displays your intent to sell the marijuana.
PWID 1st offense Felony Up to 5 years $5,000
PWID 2nd offense Felony Up to 10 years $10,000
PWID 3rd offense Felony 5 to 20 years $20,000


Trafficking in marijuana is more serious than PWID. The penalties for drug trafficking offenses can be severe, including mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years on some trafficking charges. Trafficking and distribution offenses are often categorized as violent and therefore offer no possibility of parole. Without parole, you would serve nearly all of your sentence if you are convicted.

10 – 100 lbs – 1st offense Felony 1 – 10 years $10,000
10 – 100 lbs – 2nd offense Felony 5 – 20 years $15,000
10 – 100 lbs – 3rd offense Felony 25 years $25,000
100 – 2000 lbs Felony 25 years $25,000
2,000 – 10,000 lbs Felony 25 years $50,000
More than 10,000 lbs Felony 25 years $200,000
Sale to a minor or within a 1/2 mile of a school, playground or public park Felony Up to 10 years $10,000


In South Carolina, growing (or “cultivation”) of marijuana, even for personal use, is against the law.

Less than 100 plants Felony Up to 5 years $5,000
100 – 1000 plants Felony 25 years $25,000
1000 – 10,000 plants Felony 25 years $50,000
More than 10,000 plants Felony 25 years $200,000


Drug paraphernalia is anything used for ingesting, smoking, administering, manufacturing or preparing a controlled substance. Common forms of marijuana paraphernalia are bowls, pipes, water pipes, bongs, carburetion tubes, smoking masks, roach clips, separation gins used for cleaning marijuana, vaporizers, electric pipes, and hookahs.

A person is convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia is subject to a civil fine but not jail time. Even though you won’t spend any time in jail, you can still get hit with a hefty fine.

Possession of paraphernalia Civil Citation N/A $500

Proving the prosecution’s case

To be convicted of any of the drug offenses discussed above, the prosecution must prove you were in possession of marijuana. There are two separate ways they can do this. They can establish either actual possession or constructive possession.

Actual possession happens when the police find drugs on your person or in a place where only you have access. For example, the police pat you down during the course of an arrest and find a bag of marijuana inside your jacket pocket.

Constructive possession means the police find drugs in a place you and several other people can access. For instance, police see drugs on the floorboard of a car. In this case, each person inside the car can be charged with possession because they call have access to the drugs.

Get legal help for your Marijuana offense

No matter what the circumstances were that resulted in your marijuana charge, an experienced attorney can help you sort things out. With an attorney on your side, you can move through the legal system confident your interests will be represented. Use this form or call 803-708-6767 to speak with one of our attorneys about your marijuana drug offense.

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Barney Giese

Keith Giese