Drug Crime Law

Guide to Drug Crime Law

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What is Drug Charges law? This legal area, also referred to as Drug Crimes law, is a subset of Criminal law and overlaps with Criminal Defense law. It encompasses the laws created to deal with illegal drug possession, use, manufacture, trafficking and other related transactions, as well as their enforcement and with legal defenses of the associated charges. This refers to both “street” drugs, which are strictly illegal, and drugs subject to Controlled Substances law, which are regulated by state and federal laws.

Although most drug charges are classified as felonies, the seriousness of the offence and subsequent punishment is most often determined by the type of drug involved and, if applicable, its classification under the drug schedule, the quantity the offender is found with, whether there is intent to sell and/or distribute and other relevant factors. A conviction for drug trafficking carries stiff penalties as well as dire consequences above and beyond criminal punishment, such as denial of federal benefits and forfeiture of real estate and personal property.

There exists controversy about the vigilant pursuit of drug charges against recreational users of “lesser” drugs, such as marijuana, and against drug addicts who would probably benefit far more from a drug rehabilitation clinic than from a prison sentence. Many opponents argue that drug use is a “victimless crime” and should be treated differently from violent criminal offenses. Others support the government’s view that drug use is a direct contributor to violent crime and their determination to prosecute these offenses to the fullest extent of the law. These laws exist on both the federal and state levels and are very extensively enforced. The most common defense used to fight drug charges is proving illegal search and seizure by the authorities who discovered the drugs.

A new approach to dealing with drug arrests in some cities and states is the creation of drug courts, which can provide substance abuse help for arrested individuals with addiction problems. Laws governing these courts vary by locality and state, but generally they are offered as an alternative sentencing option for non-violent first offenders and for those convicted of lesser offenses.

To consult State Legislation regarding drug charges laws and regulations please see the Criminal Code by State page.

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Articles on Drug Crime Law

  • Marijuana's Ugly Cousin - Industrial Hemp
    In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act banned the cultivation of industrial hemp, but that didn’t negate the American manufacturer’s need for the fiber. Currently, the industrial hemp market in the US is a $500 million industry, which consists entirely of imported hemp goods from China, Europe and Canada.
  • Crime and Violence in the Mile High City
    There’s been a lot of debate from both sides of the aisle regarding whether the legalization of marijuana in states like Colorado and Washington has been worth it in terms of decreasing violence and protecting the public. The initial cries from some law enforcement groups and anti-legalizers claimed that Colorado and Washington would fall into collapse and both states would be reduced to a citizenship of munchie-fiending couch potatoes who simultaneously commit random acts of violence.
  • Fear and Loathing in El Paso: Texas' Marijuana History
    Marijuana wasn’t always illegal. Like most substances now considered unlawful and highly dangerous, there was once a time when cocaine, heroin and marijuana could all be purchased over the counter at your local pharmacy.
  • Musc Festival Owner Takes a Hit for Concertgoers
    With SXSW in March, Austin City Limits in September and a whole bevy of smaller festivals in between, Texas is no stranger to large music festivals. For different people, festivals mean different things; some come for the bands, some for good times with friends, and some for the drugs.
  • Dallas Fort Worth Marijuana Lobbyists in Training
    With the changing political landscape of marijuana legalization nationwide, activism in the Dallas Fort Worth area has grown more visible and popular. With over 400 new members since 2011, DFW NORML has been one of the fastest growing chapters in the country.
  • Minnesota Medical Marijuana: What it Means for You, Legal or Not
    Medical marijuana is a very controversial topic. Recently, there have been 16 states with pending legislation or ballot measures on medical marijuana: Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • Marijuana as a Gateway Drug: Cause v. Correlation
    Almost half of all American adults, 48% to be exact, have experimented with marijuana at some point in their life. While many of those staunchly opposed to marijuana legalization argue that weed is a gateway drug for harder, more dangerous substances, many scientific studies have frequently discredited this theory. Marijuana’s label as a gateway drug is likely more a case of mistaken identity of cause for correlation.
  • Should Testosterone Products Contain a Heart Attack Warning on Labels?
    In light of recent data indicating that testosterone is dangerous for many men, Public Citizen – a public advocacy group – is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require black box warnings about heart attack and stroke risks to be included on the labels of testosterone products.
  • What Women Need to Know About Talc Body Powders
    Many women use talc-based body power as part of their personal hygiene routine, and they may be putting their health at risk as a result. In a recent study, researchers examined data collected from eight separate studies and found that women who regularly use talcum powder in the genital region increase their risk of ovarian cancer by 24 percent.
  • Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments (ENFORCE) the Law Act
    This past week the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4138 ENFORCE the Law Act with a simple majority, 233-181. The act, an acronym for Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments, was written to ensure that the president upholds his constitutional obligation to execute the laws that legislature enacts.
  • All Criminal Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Criminal Law including: arson, assault, battery, bribery, burglary, child abuse, child pornography, computer crime, controlled substances, credit card fraud, criminal defense, criminal law, drugs and narcotics, DUI, DWI, embezzlement, fraud, expungements, felonies, homicide, identity theft, manslaughter, money laundering, murder, perjury, prostitution, rape, RICO, robbery, sex crimes, shoplifting, theft, weapons, white collar crime and wire fraud.

Drug Charges Law - US

  • Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988

    The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 established the creation of a drug-free America as a policy goal. A key provision of that act was the establishment of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to set priorities, implement a national strategy, and certify federal drug-control budgets. The law specified that the strategy must be comprehensive and research-based; contain long-range goals and measurable objectives; and seek to reduce drug abuse, trafficking, and their consequences. Specifically, drug abuse is to be curbed by preventing young people from using illegal drugs, reducing the number of users, and decreasing drug availability.

  • Controlled Substance Ordering System - DEA - Office of Diversion Control

    DEA's CSOS program allows for secure electronic controlled substances orders without the supporting paper DEA Form 222. Using a technology called PKI, CSOS requires that each individual purchaser enroll with DEA to acquire a CSOS digital certificate.

  • DEA - Drug Scheduling

    The list on this site describes the basic or parent chemical and does not describe the salts, isomers and salts of isomers, esters, ethers and derivatives which may also be controlled substances.

  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

    The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.

  • Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

    The principal purpose of ONDCP is to establish policies, priorities, and objectives for the Nation's drug control program. The goals of the program are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences. To achieve these goals, the Director of ONDCP is charged with producing the National Drug Control Strategy. The Strategy directs the Nation's anti-drug efforts and establishes a program, a budget, and guidelines for cooperation among Federal, State, and local entities.

  • The President's National Drug Control Strategy - 2011

    This report presents the 2011 National Drug Control Strategy of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The 2011 National Drug Control Strategy emphasizes drug prevention and early intervention programs in helthcare settings; diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail; funding more scientific research on drug use, expanding access to substance abuse treatment and supporting those in recovery.

Drug Charges Law - International

  • Controlled Drugs and Substances Act - Canada

    An Act respecting the control of certain drugs, their precursors and other substances and to amend certain other Acts and repeal the Narcotic Control Act.

  • Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971

    The Convention establishes an international control system for psychotropic substances. It responded to the diversification and expansion of the spectrum of drugs of abuse and introduced controls over a number of synthetic drugs according to their abuse potential on the one hand and their therapeutic value on the other.

  • Drug Enforcement Branch - Canada

    The Drug Program’s goal is to prevent drug-related social and economic harm by reducing the supply and demand for illicit drugs with the understanding that the drug problem is one of global proportions. A strong integrated approach to the global drug problem involves prevention, education, enforcement, counselling, treatment, and rehabilitation. Together these are most likely to achieve long term success for drug-related issues.

  • Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961

    This Convention aims to combat drug abuse by coordinated international action. There are two forms of intervention and control that work together. First, it seeks to limit the possession, use, trade in, distribution, import, export, manufacture and production of drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes. Second, it combats drug trafficking through international cooperation to deter and discourage drug traffickers.

  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

    UNODC is mandated to assist Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism. In the Millennium Declaration, Member States also resolved to intensify efforts to fight transnational crime in all its dimensions, to redouble the efforts to implement the commitment to counter the world drug problem and to take concerted action against international terrorism.

  • UNODC - Legal Tools for Drug Control and Crime Prevention

    A functioning legal system plays a fundamental role in all drug control and crime prevention efforts. It defines what is lawful and what is not under regulatory and penal laws. It creates, limits, or takes away rights or privileges. It confers powers and responsibilities and provides safeguards. Such a system also imposes obligations and provides civil and penal sanctions if laws are violated, as well as establishing the institutions and legal framework for them to function.

Organizations Related to Drug Charges Law

  • ACLU - Against Drug Prohibition

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposes criminal prohibition of drugs. Not only is prohibition a proven failure as a drug control strategy, but it subjects otherwise law-abiding citizens to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for what they do in private. In trying to enforce the drug laws, the government violates the fundamental rights of privacy and personal autonomy that are guaranteed by our Constitution.

  • Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE)

    The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) is a nonprofit law and policy institute working to advance sustainable social policies that protect freedom of thought. The CCLE maintains that criminal drug prohibition violates freedom of thought by intimately infringing on the fundamental right to self-determine one’s own mental states.

  • Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)

    DARE.'s primary mission is to provide children with the information and skills they need to live drug-and-violence-free lives. The mission is to equip kids with the tools that will enable them to avoid negative influences and instead, allow them to focus on their strengths and potential. And, that's exactly what D.A.R.E. is designed to do.

  • Drug Free America Foundation, Inc.

    Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. is a drug prevention and policy organization committed to developing, promoting and sustaining global strategies, policies and laws that will reduce illegal drug use, drug addiction, drug-related injury and death. Drug legalization and permissive drug policies will lead to a greater availability of dangerous drugs in our communities and undermine each nation's commitment to law enforcement, health care, education, commerce and the family.

  • Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

    Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is an international organization of criminal justice professionals who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies. Our experience on the front lines of the “war on drugs” has led us to call for a repeal of prohibition and its replacement with a tight system of legalized regulation, which will effectively cripple the violent cartels and street dealers who control the current illegal market.

  • National Families in Action Guide to the Drug Prevention Movementt

    Welcome to the National Families in Action Guide to the Drug Prevention Movement. This guide contains a record of the thousands of parent groups across America who organized in the late 1970s to prevent children from becoming involved with illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. How they achieved a two-thirds reduction in the monthly use of all drugs between 1979 and 1992 is the story chronicled here.

  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML

    NORML's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.

  • Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA)

    The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a nonprofit organization that unites parents, renowned scientists and communications professionals to help families raise healthy children. Best known for its research-based national public education programs, the Partnership motivates and equips parents to prevent their children from using drugs and alcohol, and to find help and treatment for family and friends in trouble.

  • Transform Drug Policy Foundation

    Transform Drug Policy Foundation is a charitable think tank in the UK that seeks to draw public attention to the fact that drug prohibition itself is the major cause of drug-related harm to individuals, communities and nations, and should be replaced by effective, just and humane government control and regulation

Publications Related to Drug Charges Law