Hemp or Weed… and Why You Should Care

Some of the more common charges in North Carolina are misdemeanor possession of Marijuana or a schedule VI controlled substance. In fact, marijuana charges are so common that the Courts have ruled marijuana as the only drug that the standard patrol officer can positively identify. Until recently, the mere odor of marijuana has given the police an immense amount of leeway, including giving them probable cause to search your vehicle.

This however, may all be changing. In 2015 the state of North Carolina legalized, through a pilot program, the production of hemp. Hemp is similar to marijuana in many ways, including smell (burnt or un-burnt), appearance, taste, and most importantly the presence of THC. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, in other words it is what gets you high. THC is present in hemp, albeit in extremely low dosages.

Why is this important?

The legalization of hemp may have serious implications in possession of Marijuana cases, as well as other types of cases throughout North Carolina. Oftentimes officers will use the odor of marijuana as the basis for probable cause to search an area which leads them to other potential evidence. Other issues may arise with the police having the probable cause to arrest an individual, or their ability to meet the beyond a reasonable doubt standard in a trial.

What does this mean for me?

The first thing it means is that you should be extra careful and not make any admissions. Generally, one of the first things the officer is going to try to do is get you to admit to possession of marijuana. If you do make any admission, remember, it can and will be used against you in court. Second, it means you should contact an attorney as soon as possible as there may be limitations or time limits that run on your case very quickly and you will want to give them every opportunity to fight for you.

Does this mean Marijuana is legal?

NO. While hemp’s legalization in North Carolina has created several legal issues when it comes to how police and the Courts interact and handle marijuana cases, marijuana still remains illegal in the state of North Carolina.

Can just anyone grow hemp?

NO. The state of North Carolina’s pilot program has strict registration and reporting requirements that must be complied with in order to avoid potential legal trouble.

I’ve been charged with possession of Marijuana; doesn’t this mean the DA has to dismiss my case?

NO. While the legalization of hemp has caused issues in the state’s ability to prosecute these cases, each case is different and it is up to the individual District Attorney’s office to determine whether or not they will dismiss your case or move forward with a prosecution.

But can’t I just use my 90-96 deferred prosecution?

Yes, however, there are restrictions placed on your ability to use 90-96 more than once in your lifetime. Furthermore, 90-96 applies to many different controlled substance cases it may be smarter to save it for another case. Finally, using your 90-96 may have implications in future non controlled substance cases as many DA’s offices will not allow a deferred prosecution if the defendant has already used one, like their 90-96.

If you have questions about hemp, marijuana, the 90-96 deferred prosecution program, or are facing a criminal charge for possession of a controlled substance please contact us for more information.