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Laws Governing Drug Use

A. Federal Law

The Federal Government prohibits the manufacture, distribution, dispensation and possession of controlled substances unless specifically permitted by statute.

The government categorizes controlled substances according to Schedules I through V. Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, with no accepted medical use.

Schedule I drugs include, but are not limited to, heroin, marijuana, hashish, LSD and other hallucinogens.

Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, but some medical use, and include opium, morphine, codeine, barbiturates, cocaine and its derivatives, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP) and other narcotics.

Schedule III, Schedule IV and Schedule V drugs have some potential for abuse, but less than Schedule I and II drugs, with Schedule III drugs having the most potential for abuse and Schedule V the least. Schedule III, IV and V drugs include chloral hydrate (IV), certain barbiturates (III and IV), benzodiazines (IV), glutethimide (III), other depressants and narcotics (III and IV), amphetamines (III) and other stimulants (III and IV).

A complete listing of controlled substances and their classifications is contained in Title 21 of the United States Code at Section 812. Penalties for the unauthorized possession, manufacture, sale, distribution or delivery of drugs varies according to the type and quality of drug, the existence of prior offenses and whether death or serious injury results from the drug involved.

The federal penalty for the manufacture, sale or distribution of small amounts of Schedule I and II drugs, for the first offense, is from five to 40 years imprisonment and/or not more than a two million dollar fine for an individual (where death or serious injury occurs, not less than 20 years imprisonment and not more than life imprisonment); for a second offense, not less than 10 years imprisonment and not more than life and/or a fine of not less than four million dollars for an individual (where death or serious injury occurs, not less than life imprisonment).

Penalties are doubled in many cases for the manufacture, sale or distribution of larger amounts of Schedule I and II drugs. The federal penalty for the manufacture, distribution or sale of Schedule III, IV and V drugs of any quantity is: Schedule III Drug: not more than five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000.00 fine for a first offense; penalty is doubled for a second offense. Schedule IV Drug: not more than three years imprisonment and/or a $250,000.00 fine for a first offense; penalty is doubled for a second offense. Schedule V Drug: not more than one year imprisonment and/or a $100,000.00 fine; penalty is doubled for a second offense.

Federal law provides separate penalties for the manufacture, sale or distribution of marijuana, hashish, or their derivatives. Penalties vary according to the quantity involved, the existence of a prior offense, and whether death or serious injury results. For a first offense involving small amounts (less than 50 kilograms of marijuana; less than 10 kilograms of hashish), the penalty includes not more than five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000.00 fine for an individual. Penalties are doubled for second offenses. For larger quantities (between 50-100 kilograms marijuana; between 10-100 kilograms hashish), the penalty includes not more than 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of one million dollars. Penalties are increased for second offenses. Where death or serious injury results, penalties are increased to include not less than 20 years imprisonment and not more than life for a first-time offender; not less than life for a second-time offender.

In addition to the manufacture, distribution or sale of controlled substances, federal law prohibits unauthorized possession of controlled substances. Penalties for simple possession include up to one year imprisonment and/or at least a $1,000.00 fine (but less than $10,000.00) for a first offense; up to two years imprisonment and/or at least a $2,500.00 fine (but less than $250,000.00) for a second offense; up to three years imprisonment and/or at least a $5,000.00 fine (but less than $250,000.00) for subsequent offenses. Special sentencing provisions apply to the possession of crack cocaine. Special federal penalties apply to the sale or distribution of controlled substances to persons under age 21 or within 1,000 feet of school, college or university property.

B. Pennsylvania Law

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also imposes penalties for the possession, sale or delivery of a controlled substance.

Pennsylvania classifies controlled substances according to Schedules I through V consistent with federal law. As with federal law, penalties vary according to the type of controlled substance involved. The penalty for the sale or delivery, or possession with the intent to deliver, of a Schedule I or II drug, which is a narcotic, includes up to 15 years imprisonment and/or a $250,000.00 fine. The penalty for the sale, delivery or distribution of phencyclidines (PCP), methamphetamines, cocoa and its derivatives, and marijuana in excess of 1,000 pounds includes up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a $100,000.00 fine. The penalty for the sale, delivery or distribution of any other Schedule I, II or III drug not listed in (2) or (3) above, is up to five years imprisonment and/or a $15,000.00 fine. The penalty for the sale, delivery or distribution of any Schedule IV drug includes up to three years imprisonment and/or a $10,000.00 fine. The penalty for the sale, delivery or distribution of any Schedule V drug includes up to one year imprisonment and/or a $1,000.00 fine.

Penalties for unauthorized possession of a controlled substance include up to one year imprisonment and/or a $5,000.00 fine for the first offense.

Penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use or with the intent to distribute but not to sell or the distribution of a small amount of marijuana but not sale include up to 30 days in prison and/or a fine not to exceed $500.00.

Penalties for the intentional purchase or knowing receipt in commerce by any person of any controlled substance, other drug or device from any person not authorized by law to sell, distribute, dispense or otherwise deal in such controlled substance, other drug or device include up to three years imprisonment and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000.00.