The first drug law was passed in the United States way back in 1875. Since then, these laws have undergone numerous amendments and changes, that continue till today. With the prevalence of drug abuse, the drug laws have gained particular attention on part of the legislators in the past few years.
A point to note here is that legalization for the possessions, sale, and manufacture of controlled substances at the state and federal level are strictly forbidden including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamine.
The estimated cost for alcohol and drug abuse amounts to over $110 billion to the United States in a year, including injuries, accidental deaths, dependency treatments, healthcare, criminal behavior, and other issues. With these numbers, it is not hard to understand why drug abuse is one of the most debated issues in the United States.
Legal drugs vs Illegal drugs
There are so many drugs and its types exist but there is a very fine line difference between legal and illegal use of drugs. It often depends on how much, and for what the drug was used. For instance, amphetamine drug is used to deal with patients suffering from an attention disorder. Marijuana is used to treat nausea due to cancer symptoms, and barbiturates help in treating anxiety. But excessive, unsupervised, and non-prescribed use of these drugs are assumed to affect the individual and the society at large.
In wake of the drug abuse issue, the regulations are already in place to counter abuse, sale, manufacture, and distribution of these substances for decades.
Local, state, and Federal drug laws
Even though well-established strategies are in place to monitor and encounter the abuse and circulation of these controlled substances, each state follows its own drug laws. The main difference between state and federal drug laws is that most of the convictions are made on account of smuggling or trafficking in the federal drug laws.
Another key difference between state and federal drug laws is the seriousness of the crime after the conviction. Federal drug laws generally call for harsh and long prison sentences, and penalties for any drug crime, while in different states, the charges for minor crimes (simple possessions) – are treated as a misdemeanor, and for major crimes such as distribution and possession – are treated as felonies.
Federal drug penalties
A conviction of a drug offense often leads to a jail term, penalty, or both. Penalties for drug crimes are often based on the listing of the drug crime in a specific Schedule. For example, narcotics are listed in different schedules (Schedule I, II, III, IV, V) according to the severity and type of the controlled substances and Controlled Substance Import and Export Act.
Federal drug offense Attorneys
Like in any other case of crime, you may need a federal drug crime attorney if you have been convicted of a drug offense. You should contact an attorney who has been working with charged criminals, and dealing with the federal courts and jury so that he can provide you the exact legal aid you need. Federal drug prosecutors often deal with serious felonies daily. You can ask for the prosecution lawyers from the free lawyer service providers in the states.
Which offenses are assumed to be Federal drug offenses?
Drug Enforcement Agencies (DEA) specialize in major drug crimes and work under the supervision of Federal law enforcement agencies. It often targets large drug crimes that include, but are not limited to: domestic drug smuggling, international drug smuggling, etc. The drug offenses that are considered federal offenses under 21 U.S.C. 844 Act include:
- Drug manufacturing
- Possession of the substances
- Drug smuggling
- Drug Conspiracy
Typically, a federal offense can be charged if a federal property is used for the crime, or the crime has the involvement of a federal agent. The federal government intervenes when the drug offense involves large-scale smuggling and distribution of drugs from state to state. Moreover, if drugs have been sold in a school to people aged under 20, it is considered a federal offense.
Federal penalties for drug trafficking
Penalties are charged according to the offense schedule listing, type of controlled drug and quantity of the drug. For example:
- LSD (Schedule I) for 1-9 gm mixture
- Cocaine (Schedule II) for 500-4999 gm mixture
- Methamphetamine (Schedule II) for 5-49 gm pure or 50-499 mixture
- PCP (Schedule II) for 10-99 gm pure or 100-999 mixture
For the first and second category offenses of the distribution or possession of substances, the penalties are:
For a first offense:
For the first offense, there is a minimum penalty of five years, extendable to 40 years of jail time. If the offense results in death or injury, then the penalty for life can be awarded. As far as the fines are concerned, a minimum of $5million fine is imposed on an individual criminal, and $25 million is imposed on a group of people.
For second Offense:
For a second offense, there is a minimum penalty of 10 years, extendable to 40 years of jail time. If the crime results in bodily injuries, there is a life imprisonment sentence. A fine of $8 million is imposed on individuals, which increases to $50 million if a group of people is involved in the crime.
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