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North Carolina Drug Laws 101

A narcotics conviction can be life-altering. It can damage your future prospects and make getting a new job or home difficult. Since drug laws and conviction penalties vary state to state, it’s important to know and understand the drug laws in your state to ensure you remain compliant. Get all the facts on drug laws and penalties in North Carolina to avoid a possible drug charge in this state.

North Carolina Drug Schedules

There are several different types of drug-related offenses in North Carolina. These include drug manufacturing, distribution, and possession. Depending on the schedule, or category, that the particular drug falls into, the penalty may be more severe. The list below outlines the different drug schedules in North Carolina.

  • Schedule I drugs include those that have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the United States, or a lack of accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision. The following substances are included in this schedule:

    • Certain types of opiates, including betacetylmethadol, methylfentanyl, and more.

    • Fentanyl derivatives.

    • Opium derivatives.

    • Hallucinogenic substances.

    • Systemic depressants.

    • Stimulants.

    • NBOMe compounds.

    • Synthetic cannabinoids.

  • Schedule II drugs include those that have a high potential for abuse, currently have an accepted medical use in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions, and the abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence. The following substances are included in this schedule:

    • Certain types of opiates, including codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and more.

    • Any material with a stimulant effect on the central nervous system and a potential for abuse including amphetamine and methamphetamine.

  • Schedule III drugs include those that have a potential for abuse less than the substances listed in Schedule I and II, currently accepted medical use in the United States, and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. The following substances are included in this schedule:

    • Any material with a depressant effect on the central nervous system and a potential for abuse including chlorhexadol, ketamine, and more.

    • Nalorphine.

    • Anabolic steroids.

  • Schedule IV drugs include those that have a low potential for abuse relative to the substances listed in Schedule III, currently accepted medical use in the United States, and limited physical or psychological dependence. The following substances are included in this schedule:

    • Depressants including alprazolam, barbital, and more.

    • Stimulants including diethylpropion, cathine, and more.

  • Schedule V drugs include those that have a low potential for abuse relative to the substances listed in Schedule IV, currently accepted medical use in the United States, and limited physical or psychological dependence. The following substances are included in this schedule:

    • Any compound containing limited quantities of narcotic drugs or salts.

    • Anticonvulsants including ezogabine, lacosamide, and more.

  • Schedule V drugs are those that may be sold at retail without a prescription by a registered pharmacist to persons 18 years of age or older.

  • Schedule VI drugs include those that have no currently accepted medical use in the United States or a relatively low potential for abuse in terms of risk to public health and potential to produce psychic or psychological dependence liability based on present medical knowledge. The following substances are included in this schedule:

    • Marijuana.

    • Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC).

North Carolina Drug Penalties

Penalties for drug convictions in North Carolina depend on the particular substance involved and the activity performed (manufacture, distribution, or possession). Below are conviction penalties when different schedules of drugs are involved:

  • Schedule I: Class I felony. May involve 4-5 months in prison for the first offense.

  • Schedule II: Class I misdemeanor. May involve 45 days in prison for the first offense.

  • Schedule III: Class I misdemeanor. May involve 45 days in prison for the first offense.

  • Schedule IV: Class I misdemeanor. May involve 45 days in prison for the first offense.

  • Schedule V: Class II misdemeanor. May involve 30 days in prison for the first offense.

  • Schedule VI: Class III misdemeanor. May involve 10 days in prison for the first offense.

Facing a Drug Charge in North Carolina? Hire Qualified Representation

If you’re facing a drug charge in North Carolina, you still have options. Our experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys can mount a thorough and aggressive defense. We’ll poke holes in the prosecution’s argument; it’s often possible to arrange a significant reduction or an outright dismissal of your charges.


If you’ve been charged with a drug crime in North Carolina, our criminal defense attorneys are prepared to fight for you. Contact The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm Attorneys at Law at (910) 405-8459 for a free consultation today!

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