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Bluegrass festival weekend: Marijuana is illegal, slow down

As the weather finally starts to cool down in September, Raleigh welcomes a number of festivals. This weekend 100+ bands will perform along Fayetteville street as part of the Wide Open Bluegrass festival. Talent comes from across town and across the globe.

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Dancing will go late into the night on Friday and Saturday. While the atmosphere often includes alcohol, it's important to recognize that marijuana and smoking paraphernalia remain unlawful in North Carolina. Traffic citations are more common as well with increased patrols.

Marijuana charges have collateral consequences

While efforts have been successful to decriminalize or legalize personal use of marijuana in other parts of the country, law enforcement and prosecutors in North Carolina continue to take a tough stance.

Some marijuana possession charges in North Carolina are misdemeanor offenses. The amount found in your possession generally makes the difference in the severity of a charge. If you have enough to share with a friend or several friends, however, it could mean jail time and a steep fine. More than 1.5 ounces charges could become a felony with penalties ranging up to eight months in jail.

The use, possession or sale of marijuana paraphernalia is another crime. It's again a misdemeanor, unless you supply a smoking device to a minor and then the severity increases to a felony.

You probably recognize the risk of jail and civil fines in a criminal case, but consequences for a marijuana conviction may even put student financial aid into question. After any marijuana-related charge, it's important to fully understand all the potential consequences.

Keeping the roads safe

With a heightened law enforcement presence, the number of traffic citations usually increases. It might be for speed or other driving conduct, but traffic violations not only carry hefty fines and court fees, but can impact your driving privileges.

When a festival weekend gets legal, seek immediate advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Whether a felony marijuana-related charge of a traffic citation, professional legal counsel is a wise investment.

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