A drug crime is a crime that is related to or involves drugs. All states in the United States as well as the federal government have laws addressing the possession, use, manufacture, and sale of certain drugs.

Every crime has certain standards and carries different penalties. This is especially true regarding the severity of the crime that was committed.

Drug crimes usually involve offenses such as:

  • Possession;
  • Manufacturing;
  • Use; and
  • Distribution.

The crime of drug possession is one of the most common drug offenses. Charges for drug possession typically arise when an individual is knowingly in possession of a substance without authorization.

For example, when an individual has a drug without a valid prescription. Typically, drug possession charges will take into account the amount of the drug that was present. The penalties for drug possession may vary depending on whether the amount present is for personal use or for distribution.

Drug manufacturing typically involves cooking or creating a synthetic chemical substance or extracting a natural drug, such as growing marijuana or cooking methamphetamines. Packaging a drug for sale may also be considered manufacturing.

The use of an illegal drug may be considered a criminal act. This is especially true in cases where the drug requires a prescription from a doctor and the user does not have one.

Drug distribution is a very serious offense. It may include the following activities involving illegal substances:

  • Sale;
  • Smuggling;
  • Trafficking; and
  • Delivery.

It is important to note that offenses such as drug trafficking are largely dependent on the amount of the drug that was present as well as the type of drug involved.

What are the Different Types of Illegal Drugs?

There are many different types of illegal drugs. In most cases, the legality of a substance is determined by how it is being used and for what it is being used.

For example, marijuana is illegal in many states but some states allow recreational use. Even other states allow marijuana use only with a medical prescription.

Prescription drugs are legal for individuals with a valid prescription. However, if an individual possesses or uses a prescription drug without a valid prescription from a physician, they may be charged with a drug crime.

The illegal drug that is most commonly used in the United States is marijuana. This applies even in states which prohibit the possession and use of marijuana.

Other drugs that are commonly abused and may bring about criminal charges include:

  • Cocaine;
  • Heroin;
  • Methamphetamines;
  • Ecstasy; and
  • PCP, or angel dust.

What is a Controlled Substance?

A controlled substance is a drug which is regulated by the government. Typically, controlled substances can have a detrimental effect on an individual’s health and welfare.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) governs controlled substances. Substances are classified into five classes, Schedule I-V.

Substances are classified under the CSA affording to their:

  • Medicinal value;
  • Potential for abuse;
  • Safety to the public; and
  • Likelihood for dependency.

Controlled substances include both illegal and legal drugs.

What are the Possible Punishments for Drug Crime Convictions?

In both the federal and state classifications, most of the cases involving drug crimes include drug possession, manufacturing, or trafficking. The punishment for federal drug offenses are typically more severe than those for state charges of drug offenses.

It is important to note that every state has its own rules regarding drug crimes and their corresponding punishments. Generally, punishments for drug crimes are based upon:

  • The type of drug involved: The more dangerous the drug, the more severe the punishment. For example, possessing heroin may result in a more severe punishment than marijuana;
  • The amount of the drug: Large quantities of drugs may indicate that the drug was intended for distribution;
  • The purpose of the possession of the drug: Whether the individual intended to personally use the drug or to sell or distribute the drug;
  • If the individual has any prior convictions: An individual’s prior convictions may be factored into the court’s decision regarding sentencing; and
  • The individual’s probation or parole status: If an individual is on probation when they are convicted of a drug crime, they may face probation revocation.

Punishments for drug crimes vary from state to state, but, typically, the consequences may involve:

  • Imprisonment;
  • Probation;
  • Fines;
  • Court-ordered counseling;
  • Community service; or
  • Loss of child custody.

What Does Drug Cultivation Mean?

Drug cultivation is a type of drug crime that involves the growing of plants which are classified as controlled substances. Typically, this refers to growing illegal plants such as marijuana, opium, and other types of intoxicants or hallucinogenic plants.

Drug cultivation laws are typically classified under drug manufacturing laws. For example, pursuant to most drug cultivation and manufacturing laws prohibit:

  • Growing, producing, or possessing plants that have naturally occuring substances which are used in the production of controlled substances and illegal drugs; and
  • The production of illegal substances including cocaine, which are derived from plants.

Is Drug Cultivation the Same as Drug Possession?

Drug cultivation is not necessarily the same thing as drug possession. The cultivation of drugs typically involves some element of possession because the individual must possess the substance in order to cultivate or grow the drugs.

The cultivation of drugs, however, is typically a more serious charge than possession of drugs. This is because the cultivation of drugs is commonly linked to the intent to distribute the substances or drugs.

In contrast, the possession of a drug does not always mean that an individual is intending to distribute a substance.

What are the Legal Penalties for Drug Cultivation?

In many cases, the simple possession of drugs may sometimes result in a minor misdemeanor charge. These charges are punishable by a jail sentence of less than one year and criminal fines.

In contrast, the possession of drugs or drug cultivation with the intent to distribute can be charged as a felony. A felony is punishable by a prison sentence of one year or longer and hefty criminal fines.

What Type of Evidence is Needed to Prove Drug Cultivation?

In order to prove drug cultivation, the prosecution must show two things. First, the prosecution must show that the individual had the physical substances and materials used to cultivate the drugs. Second, the prosecution must show that the individual intended to cultivate the drugs for an illegal purpose and without legal authorization.

For example, if law enforcement searches an individual’s home and discovers opium seeds, electric growing lights, as well as plants in large quantities, it may be strong evidence of the cultivation of drugs with the intent to distribute.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Questions or Legal Issues Involving Drug Cultivation?

It is essential to have the assistance of a drug lawyer for any issues involving drug cultivation. Drug cultivation charges are some of the most serious types of criminal charges.

Drug cultivation charges are commonly linked with other types of crimes, such as drug distribution. Drug crime convictions can have a serious impact on your future and your loved ones.

Your lawyer can review your case, attempt to negotiate with the prosecution, if possible, and represent you during any court appearances. Having a lawyer on your case is the best way to protect your rights and your future.