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SC Weed Laws: Fines, Penalties, Jail Time


After road tripping through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, you’re back home in South Carolina, meeting up on a friend’s porch to share a few souvenirs. You pull out your brand new bong and a bag of weed you scored at a local shop in Denver.

Your wide-eyed buddy says, “Dude, you can’t smoke pot here. My next-door neighbor’s a cop.”

You reply, “It’s fine. I bought it legally in Colorado.”

Who’s right?

And what happens if you’re wrong?

Marijuana is handled seriously in South Carolina. And if you’re caught with pot, you’re going to need a strong defense lawyer to help you out of trouble.

Keep reading to find out what you need to know about South Carolina’s weed laws, including charges you may face and the fines, penalties and jail time associated with those charges.

SC Weed Charge Basics

Weed is illegal in South Carolina.

Even if you bought marijuana in a state where purchasing pot is legal, getting caught with weed (or even with something used to smoke weed) in South Carolina means you may be charged with one of the following:

  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Simple possession of weed/marijuana
  • Possession with intent to distribute (PWID)
  • Trafficking weed/marijuana

The charges you’ll face depend on several factors, including the weight of the drugs you’re caught with and the circumstances surrounding those drugs.

Take a look at what counts as weed/marijuana in South Carolina:

  • All species or variety of the marijuana plant (whether it’s growing or not)
  • The seeds of the marijuana plant
  • The resin extracted from any part of the marijuana plant
  • Every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of the marijuana plant, marijuana seeds or marijuana resin

So, yes, a bag of weed purchased in Denver is illegal in South Carolina just as a bag of weed purchased from your local connect in SC is.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

The Charge

We mentioned that weed is handled seriously in South Carolina—so seriously, that you can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia even if you don’t have any weed in your possession.

Objects that can be considered drug paraphernalia include (but are not limited to):

  • Metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic marijuana pipes with or without screens
  • Water pipes designed for use or intended for use with marijuana
  • Roach clips
  • Reparation gins designed for use or intended for use in cleaning marijuana
  • Bongs

Any device that is intended for use in ingesting, smoking, administering, manufacturing or preparing marijuana can be deemed paraphernalia.

You may be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in many scenarios, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Advertising, displaying, selling or delivering objects for use with marijuana
  • Having objects in your possession that are found in proximity to marijuana
  • Having weed residue on objects in your possession
  • Possessing instructions or depictions (oral or written) that show how objects in your possession can be used with marijuana

The Penalty

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor and can result in up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.

Simple Possession of Weed/Marijuana

The Charge

If you’re caught with at least 28 grams (1 ounce) of marijuana, you can be charged with possession of weed/marijuana.

And you don’t have to be physically holding marijuana to be charged with possession. If the drug is found in your bag, car—even on your porch—you are at risk of a possession charge.

For a simple possession charge to stick, a prosecutor must prove that you knew the drug in question was a controlled substance and that you knowingly had possession of, or control over, the drug at the time of your arrest.

The Penalty

A simple possession charge is considered a misdemeanor and can result in up to 30 days in jail and/or a $100-$200 fine.

Possession with Intent to Distribute Weed/Marijuana

The Charge

If you’ve been caught with marijuana that weighs more than 28 grams (1 ounce) and up to 10 pounds, you can be charged with possession with intent to distribute (PWID). If you’re charged with PWID, then the police believe that you intended to do more with your weed than simply smoke it yourself.

Police will use circumstances surrounding your situation to determine if you intended to sell weed, like how the weed was packaged, and whether scales or other items used to break larger quantities of marijuana into smaller ones were present at the time of your arrest.

The Penalty

Penalties for PWID are based on your previous offenses.

Jail Time
First offense Felony Up to 5 years Up to $5,000
Second offense Felony Up to 10 years Up to $10,000
Third offense Felony 5-20 years Up to $20,000

Trafficking in Weed/Marijuana

The Charge

If you are caught selling or transporting weed, you can be charged with trafficking marijuana. Trafficking is a more serious crime than possession or PWID. If you have a lot of drugs or cash on hand at the time of your arrest, you will probably be facing marijuana trafficking charges.

The Penalty

Penalties for trafficking weed/marijuana are based on how much marijuana you’ve been caught with and your previous offenses.

Jail Time
10 – 99 lbs First offense Felony 1 – 5 years Up to $10,000
10 – 99 lbs Second offense Felony 5 – 20 years Up to $15,000
10 – 99 lbs Third offense Felony 25 years $25,000
100 -1,999 lbs Any offense Felony 25 years $25,000
2,000 – 9,999 lbs Any offense Felony 25 years $50,000
10,000 lbs or more Any offense Felony 25 – 30 years with a mandatory minimum of 25 years $200,000

Need help with your weed charge?

If you’re facing drug charges associated with marijuana, you’re going to need an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands how to navigate the complex South Carolina legal system to get you the best outcome possible. Kent Collins’ team can help. Give us a call at 803-808-0905 or fill out our online form for a free consultation on your case.

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