PART 3: Legal Ramifications
No single drug works as a pop-culture reference to the high-life of Western culture than cocaine. We’ve seen it in films. We’ve heard it in music. And there is a strong possibility that we have known someone who has struggled with cocaine abuse. However, despite the fun and high-energy portrayal that we frequently assign to cocaine, there are plenty of dangers that are directly attributable to the drug. Aside from marijuana, cocaine is the single most used illegal substance on the planet, and it is one that is highly physically addictive. Using cocaine presents a clear danger to your health, greater society, and disadvantaged people in the countries that produce it. This 3-part series will examine the effects of each of these categories…
Cocaine is a controlled substance under The Controlled Substances Act. As such, it is an enormous Federal offense to distribute cocaine, and an individual can experience monumental consequences if they are convicted of such a crime. Being caught with between 500-5000 grams of cocaine can carry serious penalties. The law states that anyone caught with these exorbitant amounts of cocaine is considered to be a distributor, and can be punished with between 5 and 40 years in prison, as well as up to $5 million in fines (or $25 million, if an organized group is being charged). If the amount of cocaine exceeds 5000 grams, then the Federal penalty jumps to between 10 years and life in prison, while the fine also doubles up to $10 million (or $50 million for a group).
Possession of cocaine
Although the penalties are nowhere near as severe as they are for distribution, simply possessing cocaine can get you in a great deal of legal trouble. This includes even just having the simple leaves from the coca plant, or the extract from it. For the first offense, an individual can spend up to a year in prison and be forced to pay a fine of thousands of dollars. However, the nature of the cocaine possession can greatly affect the final sentence. There are two different legal categories for possession: simple and constructive. Simple possession is classified when a suspect is possessing cocaine, knowingly, on their person, or have immediate control of the substance. However, if authorities find cocaine in a hotel room after a suspect was staying in it, this would not be classified as simple possession, but instead constructive possession, which covers a larger legal classification.