Other than simple possession of marijuana, Massachusetts has some tough drug possession laws. It remains a tough state for prosecuting drug offenses, and maintains strict penalties on most drug possession laws.

Massachusetts decriminalized possession of small amounts (under 1 oz) or marijuana to a civil infraction in 2008. However, possession of larger amounts, or selling (distribution) of marijuana remains a criminal offense. And the police can charge you with felony drug charges if they think you are selling based on any amount, without a lot of evidence.

And Mass police have also been know to squeeze people and overcharge as distribution when it is clearly a personal possession situation. Sometimes they will try to get you to give up the person who solid you the weed.

You should also know that any criminal drug conviction, no matter how minor, can result in a 1 year driver’s license suspension. So it makes sense to work with a lawyer to avoid that issue, and explore all opportunities to avoid a criminal record showing up on a background (CORI) check.

Massachusetts Drug Categories for Controlled Substances

In penalizing offenses for the violations against Controlled Substances Acts, the drugs are categorized into classes which include the following:

Class A Substance

This class includes Heroin as by far the most commonly charged Class A Substance.  Heroin is one of the mostly common and dangerous drugs abused in Massachusetts. At first, it can cause euphoria, alternately drowsy and alert state, oral dryness, flush, slow breathing, and muscle weakness. This may lead to decreased liver function, collapsed veins, pneumonia and abscess if used in a long-term basis. This class are deemed to be most dangerous as they have high potential of abuse.

Penalties for Possession of a Class A Controlled Substance

Possession of a class a substance (first offense) will be a maximum of 2 years in prison, and up to 2 ½ years in jail for a second offense.

Class B Substance

Cocaine is the most commonly charged class B substance.

In addition to cocaine, other Class B drugs are ecstasy (MDMA or “Molly”), oxycodone hydrochloride, Amphetamine, meth, and related drugs. Chronic use could cause increased risk of strokes, drowsiness, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing and increased risk of myocardial infarction or heart attack.

Some of these drugs have accepted medical use with severe restrictions, though abuse may lead to physiological or physical dependence.

Penalties for Possession of a Class B Controlled Substance

First offense includes a maximum sentence of 1 year and the 2nd offense is an imprisonment up to 2 years.

This is an absolutely worst case scenario. We have beaten a lot of these cases, as well as worked out deals that avoid jail and ANY criminal record.

Class C Substance

This class includes drugs such as Diazepam, Lorazepam. Adverse side effects include confusion, amnesia, and ataxia.

Penalties for Possession of a Class C Controlled Substance

One or more prior convictions of possessing an illegal drug belonging to this class is a 2-year mandatory minimum.

Class D Substance

This class includes marijuana, possession of which is not a crime in most cases. Other class D substances are hashish, and other substances with THC and marijuana derivatives or concentrates like dabs, wax, shatter, or BHO (butane hash oil).

Use of marijuana may cause symptoms of reddened eyes, mouth dryness, heart palpitations, and/or heart or cold sensation. If person possessed a drug belonging to this class, he may be on 6-month probation.

Further violations can lead to additional penalties which can include drug treatment programs, fines, and/or imprisonment.

Penalties for Possession of a Class D Controlled Substance

Possession of over 1 ounce of marijuana carries a 1-year loss of driver’s license as well as a 2-year penalty after the sentence of underlying offense if near to school property, park, or playground, aka a “school zone” offense.

In addition, inducing a person under the age of 18 to distribute or sell controlled substances is subject to 5-year mandatory minimum.

Massachusetts Drug Arrests

During 2007, it was reported that there were 20,626 arrests for drug abuse violations according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Imposition of penalties also includes the mandatory minimum which is enforced in other states. Under Massachusetts drug possession laws, a mandatory minimum statute means that courts have no other alternatives than to impose a sentence not less than the minimum penalties (jail time), despite any  mitigating factors.

Get help with a Drug Charge in Massachusetts

Call us to speak to a local, experienced defense lawyer who can help fight a charge in Massachusetts. The consultation is free.