Is Weed Legal in South Carolina?

Published March 01, 2023
Is Weed Legal in South Carolina? - Secret Nature

South Carolina may still be one of the most restrictive states against cannabis, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get legal weed in The Palmetto State. In this guide, learn about the current legality of cannabis in South Carolina, all culminating in our opinion regarding whether it’s currently a good idea to smoke weed in this state.

Overview of cannabis legality in South Carolina

  • Cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC is illegal in South Carolina
  • Possession of under an ounce is punishable by up to $200 and 30 days in jail
  • Possession of more than an ounce of cannabis is a felony
  • The state has not passed any medical cannabis legislation
  • Adult-use cannabis is illegal in South Carolina
  • South Carolina imposes some of the nation’s highest penalties for cannabis use
  • All the same, cannabis use is widespread in the state

South Carolina has not made any special provisions to legalize cannabis in any way, reverting to federal law, which still deems THC-rich “marijuana” a Schedule I illicit drug. The state also has a long history of targeting predominantly black urban communities with cannabis enforcement, making cannabis use a regional racial issue intrinsically intertwined with gangs and other forms of organized crime.

Overall, South Carolina remains one of the most dangerous places in the country to either possess or use cannabis of any kind. Residents of this state who nevertheless choose to use cannabis products are strongly cautioned to keep their use discreet and within their own homes. Buying cannabis online generally prevents local law enforcement from tracking your transactions, providing some degree of insulation from potential legal blowback.

Is medical marijuana legal in South Carolina?

No, medical marijuana is not legal in South Carolina, though legislators continue to stridently attempt to change this fact. In 2022, for instance, the South Carolina Senate passed a bill that would legalize medical cannabis, but it was stopped in the state House.

The same group of Senate legislators responsible for the first bill are hard at work on another with a vote expected sometime in 2023. Even if this new bill succeeds, it will likely be 1-2 years before state-approved dispensaries are up and running, continuing to leave South Carolinians who want to use cannabis legally in the lurch.

How to get a South Carolina medical marijuana card

Currently, it is not possible to get a medical marijuana card in South Carolina. Your best bet is to ask a friend or family member in neighboring Georgia to let you use their address to apply for the state’s fast-growing medical marijuana program.

This option is only feasible for residents of Columbia, Greenville, and other South Carolina cities and towns that closely border Georgia. You would also be cautioned to keep your cannabis use within Georgia state lines and avoid taking it over the border to limit potential law enforcement interactions.

Is adult-use cannabis legal in South Carolina?

No, adult-use or “recreational” cannabis is not legal in South Carolina, and there is no indication that this situation will change anytime in the near future. For recreational cannabis to become legal in South Carolina, medical cannabis would need to be legalized first, an event that has yet to take place. Given the restrictive status of adult-use cannabis law in South Carolina, users would be wise to practice extreme caution.

Does South Carolina have recreational dispensaries?

No, there are no recreational cannabis dispensaries in South Carolina. In fact, there are no cannabis dispensaries at all. Since the state has yet to legalize either medical or recreational cannabis, users must either rely on the black market or buy their cannabis products online.

Penalties for cannabis possession in South Carolina

Penalties for marijuana possession and use in South Carolina are relatively limited for first offenses, but they become absurdly punitive when it comes to multiple offenders or individuals labeled as “distributors.” A detailed breakdown of cannabis penalties in South Carolina is as follows:

  • First offense possession under 1 ounce: Misdemeanor, up to $200 fine and 30 days in jail
  • First offense for use: Misdemeanor, up to $2,000 fine and 1 year in state prison
  • First offense for possession over 1 ounce: Felony
  • First offense possession under 1 ounce: Misdemeanor, up to $5,000 fine and 5 years in prison
  • Possession of paraphernalia: Misdemeanor, up to $500 fine

South Carolina cannabis law is filled with absurdities like weighing an entire cannabis plant when charging defendants and failing to properly account for the increased potency of cannabis concentrates. Overall, possessing or smoking weed in South Carolina is something mildly unfortunate to get caught doing once, but it can be essentially life-ending if you’re caught twice or more.

Can you get a DUI for weed in South Carolina?

Yes, you can get charged with a DUI in South Carolina if you are caught while high since this state officially considers the controlled substance THC to be intoxicating. In addition to charges related to cannabis possession and use, driving while high in South Carolina can also result in charges such as:

  • First offense: Up to 30 days in jail (48-hour minimum), up to $400 fine
  • Second offense: Up to 1 year in jail, up to $1,000 fine, mandatory reeducation classes
  • Third offense: Up to 3 years in jail, up to $6,000 fine, continued reeducation
  • Subsequent offenses: Up to 5 years in state prison

South Carolina weed legalization FAQ

Let’s start wrapping up with answers to related questions:

1. Is CBD legal in South Carolina?

Yes, CBD is legal in South Carolina. This state has not specifically legalized CBD, but the 2018 Farm Bill provides nationwide protections for cannabis products containing less than 0.3% THC.

This landmark piece of legislation separates THC-rich cannabis, which is still considered the illegal drug “marijuana,” from hemp products containing less than 0.3% THC. As a result, prosecutors in South Carolina may find themselves without a case if lab tests confirm a confiscated cannabis sample contains less than the federally mandated acceptable threshold of THC.

2. Is delta 8 legal in South Carolina?

The legality of the THC analogue delta 8 is currently unclear in the state of South Carolina. While delta 8 products are generally covered under the 2018 Farm Bill, the South Carolina Attorney General’s office issued an opinion in 2021 indicating that it found delta 8 to be illegal under the state’s hemp farming act.

An Attorney General’s opinion is not the same as a law, however. So far, South Carolina has not passed any actual laws banning delta 8, so there are no specific charges that can be brought before a court. Seek legal assistance if you have more questions about the legality of delta 8 in South Carolina.

3. Is smokable hemp legal in South Carolina?

The state of South Carolina has not made any specific efforts to ban smokable hemp products such as CBD or CBG flower. As a result, smokable hemp law in this state reverts to the federal level, at which hemp products containing less than 0.3% THC have nothing to do with illicit drugs from a regulatory perspective. 

Given the state’s intense position against marijuana, though, smokable hemp enjoyers in South Carolina should observe extreme caution. Never forget that CBD hemp flower looks just like marijuana — it smells like it, too.

4. Does South Carolina have medical cards?

No, it is not currently possible to apply for medical cannabis authorization in South Carolina. The state has not passed any legislation allowing medical marijuana, and the US federal government still views THC as an illegal drug. As a result, residents have no way to acquire cannabis legally and must resort to other channels.

The bottom line: Can you get arrested for weed in South Carolina?

Yes, it is still very possible to be arrested for cannabis possession in South Carolina. While the majority of US states have now adopted some form of cannabis legalization legislation or another, South Carolina remains one of the few places in the nation where cannabis law reverts to the federal level due to a lack of intervening state law.

It’s possible to see South Carolina as being on the cusp of imminent statewide cannabis reform. It’s just as easy, though, to imagine a situation in which the state fails to legalize cannabis for many years to come.

In the end, South Carolina isn’t the place to visit if you want to smoke weed, and smokers who live in the state would be advised to move to a new locale if they want to stop living in fear of legal repercussions. There are now plenty of places in America — even places in the South — where you can buy and use cannabis without a single worry, making South Carolina the odd one out.

Eventually, the state will come around. In the meantime, cannabis smokers in the Palmetto State should keep a low profile, buy online, and avoid letting anyone know about their cannabis use if at all possible.

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