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 of marijuana or other substances, without a lot of evidence.
Massachusetts municipal and particularly State Police have also been known 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 sold you the weed. The DA sometimes even tries to leverage you into becoming a confidential drug information, which can be extremely dangerous.
You should also know that any criminal drug conviction, no matter how minor,
can result in a 1-year driver’s license suspension. (The mandatory license suspension was repealed!)
So it makes sense to work with a lawyer to avoid license issues, as well as explore all opportunities to avoid a criminal record from 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, which is by far the most commonly charged Class A Substance. Heroin is one of the most 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 on a long-term basis. This class is deemed to be most dangerous as they have a high potential for 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 (Oxycontin), Amphetamine, meth, and related drugs, and psychedelic drugs like LSD. Chronic use of Class B substances 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. Massachusetts legalized marijuana as of 12/15/16, You can
You can legallly possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana on your person, and up to 10 ounces secured in your home.
You can also possess up to 5 grams of concentrated marijuana THC and derivatives such as 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 a 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 with Intent to Sell a Class D Controlled Substance
You can still be charged with illegally selling almost any amount of marijuana that would otherwise be legal to possess.
Just having several bags of marijuana, a scale and some cash could result in an intent to distribute felony charge. There are is an additional 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 a 5-year mandatory minimum.
Class E Substance
Some prescription drugs are classified as a class E substance under Massachusetts drug laws, including codeine, Percocet, Adderall, and many anti-anxiety drugs.
Simple possession of a prescription drug or other Class E drug rarely results in jail time, but can result in probation, and mandatory drug treatment programs.
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.