There are both state and federal laws relating to illegal drugs, and they can vary according to the type of drug and exactly what you’re doing with it. Whether you’re using, manufacturing, or selling, you can be looking at some stiff penalties. The following are various types of drug-related crimes and their accompanying sentences.
Drug Paraphernalia Charges
Did you know that you can be prosecuted for possessing items related to the use of illegal drugs, even if you aren’t in possession of the actual drugs themselves? Drug paraphernalia is any kind of object used for making, using, or concealing drugs. This includes rolling papers, pipes, baggies, and bongs for marijuana, needles, tubing, and spoons for heroin use, mirrors, straws, rolled up paper money, and razor blades for cutting and snorting cocaine, glowsticks, pacifiers, and lollipops associated with ecstasy/MDMA use, balloons, rags, or aerosol cans for inhalants. Concealment devices include jewelry, water bottles, hats or other clothing, and even bags of candy. Drug paraphernalia is illegal under federal law; U.S. Code Title 21 Section 863 makes it unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale. Penalties can vary by state and range from a fine to three years in prison.
The Controlled Substances Act regulates the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances. They are broken up into five “schedules,” with schedule 1 being the most dangerous and having no medical benefits, such as Ecstasy, LSD, and Heroin. Penalties may be more stringent depending on which schedule a drug belongs to. Sentencing also depends on whether the possession was simple (for personal use) or with intent to distribute. State laws can be more strict than the CSA but not in conflict with it. The minimum mandatory sentence for possession with intent to distribute under federal law is five years.
Manufacturing and Delivery
If you’re involved in any step of the production process of a drug, you can be charged with manufacturing. This includes people who sell certain chemicals or materials necessary for production. However, the court must prove that you were had both possession and an intent to manufacture. For example, it’s perfectly legal to have boxes of pseudoephedrine in your house, but if you also have laboratory equipment for cooking meth, you could be arrested for manufacturing. Prison sentences of 10 years or more are possible, as well as up to $50,000 in fines. There are some exemptions for marijuana, however, if it’s being made for medical use or if personal use is legal in that state.
Dealing and Trafficking
Drug trafficking involves the transportation of large amounts of drugs. You can also be charged if you’re in possession of large amounts of a drug and officers believe that you have the intent to distribute. The sentence can be anywhere from three years to life in prison, depending on the circumstances. Drug dealing occurs on a smaller scale, and the punishment varies by state and according to the type of drugs and the circumstances of their sale. For example, the minimum prison sentence if a drug deal occurs near a school can be twice what it would be otherwise.
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