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What is (Simple) Possession?



(Simple) Possession is a term that refers to a drug charge in a weight of drugs generally considered to be intended for “personal use.” First Offense Possession charges are usually classified as misdemeanor drug charges in the state of South Carolina*. Second or subsequent offenses are generally classified as felony charges. Whatever the classification, a Possession charge can have very serious consequences if a person is convicted.

What is Simple Possession of Marijuana?

For Marijuana, which is the most common form of Possession charge, and the only one actually designated as Simple Possession, the weight threshold is twenty-eight grams (one ounce) or less of marijuana or ten grams or less of hashish.

A first offense conviction of Simple Possession of Marijuana can carry up to thirty-days imprisonment or a fine between $100-$200. A second or subsequent conviction for Simple Possession of Marijuana can carry up to a year imprisonment and/or fines between $200-$1,000. Only a first offense Simple Possession of Marijuana charge is eligible for Conditional Discharge or Pre-Trial Intervention.

Can Simple Possession Apply to Other Drugs?

While the term ‘Simple Possession’ is only used in reference to Marijuana charges, a basic Possession charge can also exist for all forms of drug. The one key difference is that the weight requirements change depending on the type of drug.

Additionally, Simple Possession of Marijuana is the only drug charge that is prosecuted at the Magistrate or Municipal level. All other drug charges, including Possession of Cocaine, are prosecuted in the General Sessions or Circuit Court.


There is a weight threshold of one gram or less to be charged with Possession of Cocaine. A first offense conviction carries up to three years imprisonment and/or fines up to $5,000. A second offense and a third or subsequent offense Possession of Cocaine charge is a felony and conviction can carry up to five years and/or $7500 fines (for a second offense) or up to ten years and/or $12,500 in fines (for a third or subsequent offense).

MDMA (Also Known as Ecstasy)

MDMA’s threshold for a Possession charge is fifteen tablets/capsules/dosage units or the equivalent. Any Possession of MDMA is classified as a misdemeanor in South Carolina*. A first offense convictions carries imprisonment up to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000. A second or subsequent conviction carries up to one-year imprisonment and/or fines up to $2,000. Possession of MDMA is not eligible for Conditional Discharge.


The threshold for a Possession of Heroin charge is less than two grains (or .13 grams) of heroin. A first offense conviction carries up to two years imprisonment and/or fines up to $5,000. A second offense conviction carries up to five years imprisonment and/or fines up to $5,000. And a third or subsequent offense conviction carries up to five years imprisonment and/or fines up to $10,000.

Other Schedule I – V Drugs

Other drugs will have different and varying weight thresholds to be considered “personal use” amounts, but they will generally follow the sentencing requirements of MDMA or Heroin.

Is Weight the Only Element that Matters?

When the weight of the drug exceeds the amount considered for “personal use,” or when there is an additional inference, the charge can change to Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) or Trafficking, again depending on the weight.

Inferences for PWID or Trafficking might include the packaging in which the drugs were found or if the drugs are found with or near paraphernalia that would suggest selling/distribution. This might refer to scales, baggies, or even large quantities of cash. So, even if a person is found with a weight of drug that would normally qualify as a Possession charge, if the drugs were found with a number of baggies and a large quantity of cash, the person may be charged with PWID. All Distribution and Trafficking charges are classified as felony charges in the State of South Carolina.

*It is important to note that while the State of South Carolina may classify a First Offense Possession charge as a misdemeanor, the sentencing guidelines for all but Simple Possession of Marijuana carry one year or more of jail-time, which means that nationally, Possession of Cocaine, MDMA, Heroin, or any other Schedule I-V drug (not including marijuana) would be classified as a felony charge.

All drug charges are serious offenses with serious consequences. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug offense, contact the Complete Legal Defense Team to learn how we can help.

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