Illicit Drugs Laws

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 What Are Illicit Drugs?

Illicit drugs are substances that have been proclaimed unlawful to have, use, or distribute without permission under federal or state laws. They are usually classified under “schedules,” which rank the drugs in their danger to people and communities.

For instance, some illicit drugs may be banned because they are addictive or are associated with harmful side effects. Other substances may be proclaimed illicit drugs because they can have adverse effects if taken during pregnancy. Therefore, illegal drugs are subject to intensive management and monitoring by the government to safeguard the general public from their risks.

What Is a Drug Crime?

Drug crimes are precisely what their title implies, offenses related to drugs. Every state in the United States and the federal government has regulations that address certain drugs’ possession, use, manufacture, and sale.

There are four basic types of drug crimes. Each type of crime has different requirements for proof and carries further penalties.

The types of drug crimes include:

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

Drug possession is one of the most typical types of drug crimes. Drug possession charges commonly occur when an individual knowingly possesses a drug without permission.

This may happen when they have the drug without a proper prescription. Commonly, drug possession charges also consider the amount of an individual’s drug. The penalty for the crime may differ depending on whether the amount of the drug is for personal use, sale, or distribution.
The distribution of an illegal drug can be a grave offense with severe consequences.

This type of crime involves the following actions:

  • Selling an illicit drug;
  • Smuggling an illicit drug;
  • Trafficking an illicit drug; and
  • The delivery of an illicit drug.

The use of an illicit drug can be a criminal violation, particularly when the drug used requires a prescription from a physician and the person does not have a proper prescription. The use of illicit drugs can also include specific drugs made illegal by statute, such as methamphetamine.

Drug manufacturing involves creating, sometimes known as cooking, a synthetic chemical substance or extracting a natural drug, such as cooking methamphetamines or growing marijuana. The packaging of a drug for resale may also count as manufacturing.

What Are the Different Types of Illegal Drugs?

The lawfulness of many narcotics is determined by how the drug is being used and for what the drug is being used. For instance, in many states, marijuana is currently banned. However, some states permit recreational marijuana use, while others permit marijuana use only with a medical prescription.

Prescription drugs are deemed lawful for those people who possess a proper prescription. Yet, if an individual possesses or uses a prescription drug without having a prescription from a physician, they may be charged with a drug crime.

Marijuana is the most typically used illicit drug in the United States today. This is true even in states that ban marijuana possession and use.

Other drugs that are typically abused which may bring about criminal charges include:

  • Cocaine;
  • Heroin;
  • Methamphetamines;
  • Ecstasy; and
  • PCP, or Angel Dust.

What Is a Controlled Substance?

In general, a controlled substance is a substance that the government regulates. Generally, these substances harm an individual’s health and welfare.

Controlled substances are rigorously regulated by governmental law. The Controlled Substances Act categorizes controlled substances into five classes, called schedules, based on their:

  • Medicinal importance;
  • Potential for abuse;
  • Safety to the public; and
  • The likelihood of dependency.

Controlled substances include legal and illegal drugs.

What Is Possession of an Illegal Drug?

An individual may be convicted of possession of illegal drugs if they:

  • Deliberately get illegal drugs;
  • Fail to get rid of illicit drugs after learning they were in their possession; and
  • Are in the area of illicit drugs.

It is essential to note that people can be charged with criminal possession of illegal drugs even if they merely held the drugs for someone else. An individual can possess illicit drugs without being the owner of the drugs.

What Is Distribution of an Illegal Drug?

An individual may be charged with distributing an illicit drug if they sell or, in some cases, give away illegal drugs. The bulk of states have statutes restricting the intent to sell illegal drugs, also called illegal narcotics.

Intent to sell illicit drugs is established using various factors, including the circumstances surrounding the possession. It may also include the testimony of law enforcement officers.
In addition, many states have rules that make aiding and encouraging the distribution of narcotics unlawful. In other words, an individual who intentionally holds illegal drugs for someone else may be charged with aiding and abetting the distribution of illicit substances if that person sells the narcotics.

In some states, there are more significant penalties for distributing illegal drugs to minors. The age of the majority differs by state. In some states, it is 18, and in others, 19.

What Are the Categories of Illicit Drugs?

Illicit drugs are classified into “schedules” according to state regulations and federal acts such as the Controlled Substances Act. Most laws categorize illegal drugs into categories which can include:

  • Narcotics: These are drugs that are used to reduce or control pain. They are generally addictive and can induce sleep. Some examples include opium, morphine, codeine, and many manufactured substances.
  • Stimulants: These are drugs that trigger or exhilarate the nervous system. They typically produce more energy and are also highly addictive. Examples include cocaine, “crack,” caffeine-based drugs, and amphetamines.
  • Depressants: These substances are created to relieve anxiety and tension, such as barbiturates.
  • Hallucinogens: These drugs deliver altered states of being and change how a person perceives reality. Abuse of hallucinogens can cause various psychoses and psychological disorders. Examples include LSD, peyote, and mescaline.
  • Cannabis: Substances taken directly from or created from the hemp plant. Examples include marijuana cigarettes, hashish, and synthetic marijuana variants.

Thus, illegal drugs are usually categorized according to how they impact a person’s being and what intent they are used for. Drug schedules often organize the illicit substances using a comparison of how useful they potentially can be versus how perilous they might be for society.

What Are Some Penalties Associated with Illicit Drug Crimes?

Illegal drug crimes can often involve harsh legal penalties, such as criminal fines or time in jail or prison. Some drug crimes are categorized as misdemeanors, but many are also considered federal felony crimes. The harshness of the criminal sentence usually hinges on several factors, including the type of drug involved and the amount of drug involved.

Besides criminal consequences, illicit drug charges can have many adverse effects on a person’s life, such as:

  • Loss of child custody or visitation rights
  • Loss of the right to own a firearm
  • Loss of other privileges such as the driving privileges

What Is the Use of an Illegal Drug?

The majority of unlawful substances to possess or distribute are also unlawful to use. This applies to illegal narcotics and prescription drugs that were not obtained legally.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Illicit Drug Charges?

Illicit drug charges can often lead to severe criminal charges. Some of these can be classified as felony charges, often difficult to expunge or erase from one’s record. Thus, if you’re facing illicit drug charges, you should contact a drug lawyer immediately for help.

Your lawyer will be able to explain how drug laws may affect your case and can provide you with representation during a trial.

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