Legal Drugs vs. Illegal Drugs
Obviously, having certain drugs in your possession is not always illegal. Whether a drug is considered legal or illegal depends on how the drug is being used. Some controlled substances are prescribed to treat physical or mental impairments. For instance, amphetamines may be used to treat attention deficit disorder, barbiturates can be prescribed to treat anxiety, and marijuana is often used to help alleviate cancer-induced nausea. However, the unprescribed and unsupervised use of these same drugs can be illegal. Recognizing the difference between legal and illegal drugs is important in avoiding criminal charges.
Federal, state, and local drug laws
For several decades now, lawmakers have taken every effort to regulate the use, abuse, manufacture, and sale of illegal drugs, for the safety of all citizens. There are well-established strategies put in place by the federal government to fight illegal drug abuse and the illegal distribution of controlled substances. Each state also has its own set of drug laws, as well.
Differences between federal and state drug laws
While most federal drug convictions are based on trafficking, the majority of local and state drug charges are for drug possession – primarily possession of marijuana. Another important difference is the severity of the consequences of a drug conviction. Federal drug charges typically carry more severe punishments and longer sentences. For example, a state arrests for simple possession, without the intent to distribute, tend to be charged as misdemeanors, usually resulting in probation, a short jail term, or a fine. However, for a first offense of drug trafficking, can result in 5-40 years in prison and a large fine.
If you have questions regarding drug charges, or any other criminal defense matters, please contact Ketcham Law by calling us at (205) 296-4233.