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What Amount of Drugs is Considered Trafficking?

If you use marijuana or other controlled substances in NC, you can face drug charges, including trafficking. The type of charge you incur is related to the amount of drug you possess. Each controlled substance has different amounts that you may possess without fear of a trafficking charge. However, you can also face charges for PWISD (possession with intent to sell), paraphernalia, DUI, and child endangerment. Let’s look at common illegal substances and the amounts you must not possess to avoid a trafficking charge.


North Carolina organizes controlled substances into a schedule from 1-6. Schedule 6 drugs are considered the least addictive and dangerous. The primary controlled substance on schedule 6 is marijuana and forms of marijuana. However, even though trafficking marijuana does not carry as stiff penalties as trafficking other more serious drugs, you can still face imprisonment for trafficking marijuana. 

Possible Charges for different amounts of marijuana include:

  • 0.5 ounces or less of marijuana is a Class 3 possession misdemeanor with a maximum fine of up to $200. 
  • 0.5 to 1.5 ounces is a Class 1 misdemeanor possession charge punishable by 1 to 45 days imprisonment and a fine of up to $1000. 
  • 1.5oz up to 10lbs is a Class I felony punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment, and a discretionary judge imposed fine for a first offense.
  • 10-50lbs sale or delivery of marijuana is a Class H felony PWISD charge of possession with intent to sell or deliver punishable by a minimum of 2 years imprisonment and a fine of at least $5,000. 
  • 50-2,000lbs sale or delivery of marijuana is a Class G felony trafficking charge punishable by up to 3 years in prison with a fine of $25,000. 

Even as a first-time offender, marijuana trafficking is a serious charge with prison time and hefty fines. In addition, trafficking this schedule 6 drug can bring a felony criminal record with future difficulty finding jobs or housing. (1)


Heroin is a different world from marijuana. It is a schedule 1 drug with high addiction potential and presents a serious danger to users. Because addiction potential is so high, it is difficult to get a prescription.

Because producers often lace street heroin with Fentanyl or other deadly drugs, even one pill can cause death for a heroin user. Often the producers do not mix batches the same, so you can’t trust that a tablet off the street is a legitimate dose.

Criminal charges for heroin start at minuscule amounts.

  • Any amount under 4g of heroin is a Class I felony possession charge with 6-12 months in prison along with fines and potential loss of license. You can also face heroin PWISD charges for less than 4 grams. If you possess more than 4 grams, you are looking at a trafficking charge instead. 
  • 4-14g is a Class F drug trafficking felony with 5-8 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. 
  • 14-28g heroin trafficking charges bring you 7.5 to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. 
  • 28g or more is a class C felony with 18 to 23 years in prison and a penalty fine of $500,000.

Defending Against Trafficking Charges

An experienced attorney can often help a first-time offender get a dismissal for a charge of heroin possession. There may be requirements like drug assessments and education programs, but dismissal is not out of the question. PWISD and trafficking charges are more difficult to defend, but working with the DA for reduced charges is possible. Trafficking charges also often carry a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration. However, it is sometimes possible to avoid compulsory sentencing.

An experienced attorney investigates the circumstances surrounding your arrest. If law enforcement violated your constitutional rights, your attorney will want to consider filing a variety of pretrial motions. Your attorney should analyze the case from the moment officers began interacting with you to determine if there is a legal basis for a motion to suppress evidence or dismiss the charges.

Reviewing the evidence and considering litigation may bring your best outcome. An experienced attorney can help you make that decision. 

Don’t Incriminate Yourself

Law enforcement officers often engage in tactics that may be unconstitutional. If you face drug trafficking charges in NC, you still have rights. You have the right to:

  • Not give self-incriminating evidence against yourself.
  • Be informed of the charges against you. 
  • Refuse to speak about what happened without an attorney present.
  • The right to be free from searches and seizures except when:
    • There is a warrant that names you or
    • Law enforcement has a limited exception to the warrant requirement 

We Can Help

At Scharff Law, our experienced criminal law team considers whether the prosecutor may agree to reduce or dismiss charges for first-time offenders or other extenuating circumstances. We investigate unlawful search and seizures while uncovering a lack of evidence and rights violations. Our knowledgeable legal team mitigates your charges or challenges them with litigation. We understand the fear and anxiety of facing drug charges, so we stand up for your rights while giving you the best possible representation under the law. Contact us today and find out how we can help you. 


  1. North Carolina Laws and Penalties 
  2. NC General Statutes – Chapter 15A Article 81B 1 Article 81B. Structured Sentencing of Persons Convicted of Crimes. Part 1. Gene
  3. North Carolina Drug Laws and Penalties Each illegal drug in the State of North Carolina is characterized in the chart below to m