Many states have “legalized” marijuana in some form or another. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that allow some legal use of marijuana, including medical uses. Seven states and the District of Columbia purport to have legalized marijuana for recreational as well as for medicinal use.

That doesn’t mean possession or use of marijuana is legal, however. Federal laws against marijuana possession remain in place nationwide, and state laws against driving under the influence of marijuana remain in place. Further, in the vast majority of states, including South Carolina, possession, use, or being under the influence of marijuana remains illegal.

Simple possession of marijuana in South Carolina – meaning 1 ounce or less – is a criminal misdemeanor on first offense, subject to 30 days in jail and/or a $200 fine, as well as a 6-month suspension of your driver’s license. A second offense for possession of 1 ounce or less is subject to up to a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine, as well as any accompanying license suspension. Penalties for possession of larger amounts, which is considered proof of intent to distribute, are more significant and also can trigger federal charges, depending upon the amount.

Legal protections apply in marijuana possession cases

Even if police find you around or near marijuana, the state has burdens of proof before you can be convicted of possession of marijuana. First, the state (or the city or county, depending on circumstances) must show that you actually were in possession of the marijuana. The government can show actual possession, such as marijuana in your pocket or purse, or constructive possession, such as marijuana in your car or home. Even then, the government must show that you actually knew the marijuana was there or that the facts show you should have known marijuana was there.

Because marijuana possession is a crime, but what constitutes possession is subject to legal interpretation, it is best if you seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. You cannot navigate the legal requirements of what constitutes drug possession on your own, and your future depends upon a positive outcome.

If You Have Been Arrested for Marijuana Possession in the Columbia Area, You Should Contact Criminal Defense Attorney William A. Hodge, Attorney at Law

If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana in the Columbia area, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney. Competent legal representation is the best way avoid or mitigate the impact of a drug charge conviction. You need a competent attorney to guide you through the legal process. William A. Hodge, Attorney at Law, can assist you with such charges and help you to reduce or even eliminate consequences for a marijuana arrest. You can call me at (803) 457-2216 or use my online contact form.