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Eye-Popping Pot Bust in Wilmington

Traffic-patrol officers in Wilmington did a big double-take not long ago. After pulling a car over for traffic violations, they glanced inside and noticed about 56 pounds of marijuana, lying in plain sight.

The estimated street value of the drug is around $40,000.

The suspects, both from Charlotte, were arrested and charged with marijuana trafficking. The two are being held in the New Hanover County Detention Center, and the judge has set bail at $300,000 and $1 million.

Harsh Penalties for Marijuana Distribution in North Carolina

Because possession of weed is penalized less than for cocaine, methamphetamine, or other drugs, some marijuana users are inclined to shrug off an arrest. But in North Carolina, the consequences can be serious. Possession of less than 1½ ounces - equivalent to a few joints - is a misdemeanor, for which a jail sentence is usually suspended. But, as in the case just described, if you are caught transporting more than that, you may be charged with a Class I felony, punishable by up to 12 months in prison for a first conviction.

What's more, if there's evidence that you meant to sell or share the marijuana, such as the presence of scales, plastic bags, or other paraphernalia, things quickly get much worse. Sentences for possession with intent to distribute usually bring longer jail terms and very stiff fines. Repeat offenders can expect years behind bars, along with ruinous fines and costs.

Despite its relatively easy availability, marijuana is a legally risky substance that should not be taken lightly. Anyone facing a trial after a drug-related charge should consult an experienced lawyer, who will work to minimize sentences and assure that defendants' rights are protected.

Related Story:

Cops find 56 pounds of pot during traffic stop

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