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In Addition to Trafficking, These 3 Drug Offenses Can Land You a Felony

Unfortunately, drug offenses are not always common sense in the United States. The punishments don’t always fit the crimes, which leaves American correctional facilities overcrowded and the justice system overwhelmed.

The vast majority (94%) of state prisoners are incarcerated for felony offenses. With about 2.3 million people incarcerated in the U.S., that’s a lot of felony offenses.

According to Georgia state legislation (§16-13-30), these are three drug offenses that can land you a felony:

#1 - Possession of one ounce (or more) of marijuana.

Cannabis (marijuana) is still federally categorized as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). While many states have voted to legalize the substance, the federal government and the state of Georgia have yet to catch up with the research that suggests cannabis has significant medical benefits.

If you’re caught with an ounce or more of marijuana (for personal use) in Georgia, you will face a felony charge and a $5,000 fine. If convicted, you may spend anywhere from a minimum of one to a maximum of ten years in jail.

#2 - Possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

If you are caught, the possession of any Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance with intent to distribute will result in a felony charge. If you are convicted, the punishments are as follows:

  • Schedule I or II controlled substance:
    • Felony conviction with 1-30 years of incarceration (depending on the quantity)
  • Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance:
    • Felony conviction with 1-10 years of imprisonment (depending on the quantity)

#3 - Unlawful possession of a controlled substance (simple possession).

The punishment for a possession conviction depends on the quantity and what kind of substance it is. Here’s a concise breakdown of penalties for possession of a controlled substance:

  • Schedule I controlled substance, Schedule II narcotic, or Schedule II non-narcotic:
    • Felony conviction with 2-30 years of incarceration
  • Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance:
    • Felony conviction with 1-5 years of incarceration

Federal Drug Scheduling

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operates under a drug scheduling system. This system places controlled substances into categories based on the substances’ medical and abuse potential.

Unfortunately, this drug scheduling system doesn’t always make sense. For instance, marijuana and heroin are under the same schedule, even though heroin has a much higher abuse potential than marijuana and is far more dangerous for recreational use.

Here’s a quick rundown of the DEA’s drug scheduling system:

Schedule I

“Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Some examples include:

  • Heroin
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Marijuana
  • 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)
  • Methaqualone
  • Peyote

Schedule II

“Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.”

Some examples include:

  • Combination products with less than 15 milligrams (mg) of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin)
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methadone
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Fentanyl
  • Dexedrine
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin

Schedule III

“Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs’ abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV.”

Some examples include:

  • Products containing less than 90 mg of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine)
  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Testosterone

Schedule IV

“Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.”

Some examples include:

  • Xanax
  • Soma
  • Darvon
  • Darvocet
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Talwin
  • Ambien
  • Tramadol

Schedule V

“Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes.”

Some examples include:

  • Cough preparations with less than 200 mg of codeine or per 100 milliliters (ml) (Robitussin AC)
  • Lomotil
  • Motofen
  • Lyrica
  • Parepectolin

If you’re facing a drug charge, you must seek legal representation right away. The longer you wait to secure representation, the harder it will be to clear your name of the charges. Don’t delay—reach out to our office right away with your questions.

Contact our office today by calling (770) 884-4708 or by filling out the online contact form to discuss the details of your case with our skilled Atlanta criminal defense attorney.