Possessing any amount of illegal substances like LSD, meth, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and even marijuana is considered illegal in the United States. Drug charges are considered a federal crime. The convictions depend on the circumstances of the case. The laws may vary in every state but having a certain amount of drug in someone’s possession can determine the weight of charges. Drug possession charges can have minimal convictions but if the individual has been found guilty in the past of a similar crime, it can have the potential to land the defendant in prison for a lifetime.
In some drug possession charges, the factor that can differentiate a defendant’s case is the intent to deliver, distribute, or sell. A drug possession charge can turn into possession with the intention to deliver or distribute with a simple check on the number of substances present in the case. An example is when the defendant was arrested with having more than one gram of heroin or two grams of cocaine can lead to possession with intent to deliver charge. This charge has a conviction of at least one year in jail.
The penalties in drug possession have dramatically increased in 1971 after President Richard Nixon implemented the War on Drugs. Nixon implemented the War on Drugs after a spike in drug abuse in the 1960s. The policies of Nixon were later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Under Reagan, there were three-strike laws with zero-tolerance policies. This led to an increase of incarcerated people for non-violent drug crimes from 50,000 to 400,000. The increase started in 1980 to 1997.
In recent times, people started to view drugs in a different light. Drug addiction experts have made wide pronouncements on the problem related to mental illness. There are further explanations that drug addiction is not some innate criminality or character weakness but rather mental illness. Over the years, drug use increased despite stricter policies and harsher punishments instead of rehabilitation and treatment. As the cultural views on drug use have started to shift, possessing certain substances has slowly been decriminalized such as marijuana.
It is essential for any individual who is suffering from an addiction problem must familiarize himself or herself concerning drug possession charges and laws. Possessing even a small amount of drugs can lead to jail time. Addiction disorders may not be considered during sentencing. Moreover, if the individual would suddenly stop taking the drugs, it could be dangerous to their system.
Factors Affecting Drug Possession Charges
Not every drug possession charge is the same. The convictions for every crime may depend on multiple factors. Factors included would be the quantity of the drug and the type of drug involved. Another factor is if the person possessing the controlled substance has a valid prescription coming from a licensed medical professional. Penalties in invalid prescriptions have increased due to the rising statistics of abusing prescription drugs.
Both the prescription and illegal drugs have been classified by the federal government in categories called Schedules. Each schedule identifies the higher possibility of abuse and if the substance has any purpose in the medical field.
Schedule 1: The drugs within this schedule have the highest and strictest penalties compared to other drug schedules. These drugs have the highest potential of getting abuse. This includes marijuana, LSD, GHB, and heroin. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration is considering downgrading marijuana from this schedule since there is increasing evidence of its medical use.
Schedule 2: The drugs under schedule 2 also have a high potential for addiction and abuse but there are certain accepted medical uses for it. Drugs under schedule 2 include morphine, oxycodone, opium, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
Schedule 3: The drugs under this schedule have lower possibilities of abuse under schedule 1 and 2. Schedule 3 drugs might not be physically addictive and have more medical purposes. Drugs within this category have ketamine, Vicodin, anabolic steroids, and certain substances with codeine.
Schedule 4: This schedule contains prescription medication which has a lower potential of abuse. However, these drugs can become psychologically and physically addictive when abused. Drugs under this category are Ativan, Valium, Klonopin, and Xanax.
Schedule 5: Drugs under this category are medications which have the lowest possibility for abuse. These substances are mostly used for medicinal purposes although it contains some small amounts of narcotics substances like codeine.
Any individual facing drug possession charges must work with a drug lawyer. The lawyer will aid the defendant in navigating the justice system while ensuring that his or her rights are protected during the legal proceedings.