South Carolina Drug Laws

South Carolina Drug Laws

Only seven percent of South Carolina’s residents reported a last-month use of illicit substances, below the national average of eight percent; however, the high rate of drug-related deaths and the skyrocketing popularity of methamphetamine are forcing legislators to develop new laws to prevent and punish the production and abuse of illegal drugs.

Possession Laws

As in many other states, South Carolina has a gradually increasing series of penalties depending on the type of drug found in one’s possession, and the amount of the drug. Marijuana is considered one of the most mild drugs, and possession of less than one ounce is considered a misdemeanor, with a first offense maximum penalty of 30 days and a fine of up to $200.

Subsequent offenses can carry up to a one-year sentence and a $1,000 fine. Cultivating and/or trafficking marijuana is treated much more harshly, considered a felony and, depending on the amount of marijuana involved, could carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a fine of up to $25,000 (if less than 2,000 pounds).

Increased Methamphetamine Penalties

In an effort to combat the severe methamphetamine problem, South Carolina has imposed a series of stricter and more focused penalties for users and producers of crystal meth. In South Carolina, producing meth is now considered a violent crime, and any offender will not be eligible for parole until at least one third of the sentence has been served.

In addition, the possession of any kind of equipment used in the production of methamphetamine can be considered an intent to manufacture, and carries severe penalties in South Carolina courts.

Employment Drug Testing

In South Carolina, as long as the employer has an explicitly written drug testing policy, it is legal for almost any employer to administer random drug tests to its employees. It is also legal for employers to administer a drug screening before hiring prospective candidates.

Recently, South Carolina legislators have pushed further, developing new laws that will require individuals to be drug tested in order to qualify for unemployment insurance. While some have outspokenly criticized the new laws, coupled with a reduction of state unemployment insurance in general, proponents defend the logic behind it by insisting that unemployed individuals should be subject to the same screenings as employees.

Rehabilitation Centers And Treatment Opportunities

Court decisions on drug possession, particularly lesser offenses, can sometimes carry mandatory rehabilitation, often in the form of a court-ordered series focused on education and drug abuse prevention. South Carolina also puts a significant amount of funding toward both preventative programs and rehabilitation, targeted toward lower-income individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford the treatment they need.

Marijuana remains the most commonly used drug in South Carolina, but the more imminent cause for concern is the explosive growth of meth labs. South Carolina’s drug laws are attempting to curtail the use of such illicit substances, and are becoming more strict toward users and manufacturers of methamphetamine.

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