drug possession penalties

Almost 1,600,000 people were arrested for drug violations in the U.S. in 2016. More than 84% of the arrests were for possession of a controlled substance.

Were you charged with possession of a controlled substance in South Carolina? Drug possession penalties vary depending on the drug classification.

Read on to learn more about drug classifications and drug possession penalties.

Drug Regulation by State

The regulation of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) varies by state. Each state has its own definition of CDS. Each state also imposes different penalties based on the amount and type of drug.

South Carolina (SC) also classifies as CDS the substances used in making illegal drugs.

Drug Classifications

There are five schedules in classifying CDS in SC. It is legal to have and use some of the drugs in these classes, but only with a prescription. The prescription must come from a doctor in SC. The classifications are:

  • Schedule I
  • Schedule II
  • Schedule III
  • Schedule IV
  • Schedule V

Schedule I and II Narcotics

It’s a misdemeanor to possess marijuana, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or any other Schedule I or II narcotic CDS in SC. Penalties differ depending on the number of offenses. If this is your first offense, a fine of up to $5,000 or two years in jail, or both, is the penalty.

A second offense is a felony. The fine is as much as $5,000 or up to five years in prison or both.

Each successive offense raises the fine, though not the jail time. Three offenses or more is a fine of up to $10,000, and up to five years in prison or both.

Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V

Other Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V CDS is a misdemeanor for possession, with the exception of cocaine. A first offense penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail or both.

A second offense or more incurs fines of up to $2,000 or up to one year in jail or both.

Cocaine Possession

A first offense of cocaine possession is a misdemeanor. The fine is up to $5,000 or up to three years in prison or both. As with the other narcotics, a second offense is a felony.

The penalty carries a fine of up to $7,500, as much as three years in prison or both. A third offense or more of cocaine possession has a penalty of up to $12,500 or up to 10 years in prison or both.

If you’re caught in possession of more than one gram of cocaine, judges presume intent to sell. This carries harsher penalties.

Drug Possession Penalties

Before you travel, know the laws of the states you’ll be in. Every state has different drug possession penalties. Medical marijuana is not legal in SC, even if you have a prescription in another state.

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