What is the difference between drug possession and distribution?

In South Carolina, the law handles all drug-related matters in a serious way. You may wonder if there is a difference in severity between drug possession and drug distribution charges. While the answer is yes, both crimes can come with hefty penalties.

So what are the major differences between possession and distribution, then? How do the crimes, charges and penalties differ?

Drug possession charges

South Carolina Legislature discusses matters related to drugs, including drug possession and distribution. As is the case in many states, South Carolina treats drug distribution as the more serious crime. However, drug possession is the more common charge. To face drug possession charges, you must have a controlled substance in a substantial quantity. You must have enough for personal use or sale. You must also lack a prescription and know you have the substance.

For a first-time marijuana possession offense, you still face a 30-day jail sentence. If convicted of possessing a harder substance like heroin, you face up to 2 years in custody. At this point, the state may still classify these charges as misdemeanors.

Drug possession with the intent to distribute

Possession with the intent to distribute has more requirements. If you have 20 grams or less of a substance, you may face misdemeanor charges. But 21-200 grams of a substance will get you a felony charge.

Depending on the drug you have, you may face different penalties, too. For example, possessing less than 10 pounds of marijuana with the intent to sell can get you a 5-year prison sentence. On the other hand, if you face conviction for selling heroin, even a first-time offense comes with a 15-year jail sentence. It is a lot of jail time and a lot of high fines no matter what charge you face.