Federal Drug Laws

Federal Drug Laws

Federal Drug Laws

The possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs is prohibited by federal law. Strict penalties are enforced for drug convictions, including mandatory prison terms for many offenses. The following information, although not complete, is an overview of federal penalties for first convictions. All penalties are doubled for any subsequentdrug conviction.

Denial of Federal Aid (20 USC 1091)

Under the Higher Education Act of 1998, students convicted under federal or state law for the sale or possession of drugs will have their federal financial aid eligibility suspended. This includes all federal grants, loans, federal work study programs, and more. Students convicted of drug possession will be ineligible for one year from the date of the conviction of the first offense, two years for the second offense, and indefinitely for the third offense. Students convicted of selling drugs will be ineligible for two years from the date of the first conviction, and indefinitely for the second offense. Those who lose eligibility can regain eligibility by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program.

Forfeiture of Personal Property and Real Estate (21 USC 853)

Any person convicted of a federal drug offense punishable by more than one year in prison shall forfeit to the United States any personal or real property related to the violation, including houses, cars, and other personal belongings. A warrant of seizure is issued and property is seized at the time an individual is arrested on charges that may result in forfeiture.

Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties (21 USC 841)

Penalties for federal drug trafficking convictions vary according to the quantity of the controlled substance involved in the transaction. The following list is a sample of the range and severity of federal penalties imposed for first convictions. Penalties for subsequent convictions are twice as severe. If death or serious bodily injury result from the use of a controlled substance which has been illegally distributed, the person convicted on federal charges of distributing the substance faces mandatory life sentence and fines ranging up to $8 million.

Persons convicted on federal charges of drug trafficking within 1,000 feet of a University (21 USC 845a) face penalties of prison terms and fines which are twice as high as the regular penalties for the offense, with a mandatory prison sentence of at least 1 year.

Drug/Substance Amount Penalty-1st Conviction
Barbiturates Any amount Up to 5 years prison. Fine up to $250,000
Cocaine 5 kgs. or more Not less than 10 years prison, not more than life. Fine up to $4 million
Less than 100 grams 10-63 months prison. Fine up to $1 million
Crack Cocaine 50 grams or more Not less than 10 years prison, not more than life. Fine up to $4 million
5-49 grams Not less than 5 years prison, not more than 40 years. Fine up to $2 million
5 grams or less 10-63 months prison. Fine up to $1 million
Ecstasy Any amount Up to 20 years imprisonment. Fine up to $1 million. 3 years of supervised releases (following prison)
GHB Any amount Up to 20 years imprisonment. Fine up to $1 million. 3 years of supervised releases (following prison)
Hashish 10-100 kg Up to 20 years imprisonment. Fine up to $1 million.
10 kg or less Up to 5 years imprisonment. Fine up to $250,000
Hash Oil 1-100 kg Up to 20 years imprisonment. Fine up to $1 million.
1 kg or less Up to 5 years imprisonment. Fine up to $250,000
Heroin 1 kg or more Not less than 10 years prison, not more than life. Fine up to $4 million
100-999 grams Not less than 5 years prison, not more than 40 years. Fine up to $2 million
100 grams or less 10-63 months prison. Fine up to $1 million
Ketamine Any amount Up to 5 years imprisonment. Fine up to $250,000. 2 years supervised release
LSD 10 grams or more Not less than 10 years prison, not more than life. Fine up to $4 million
1-10 grams Not less than 5 years prison, not more than 40 years. Fine up to $2 million
Marijuana 1000 kg or more Not less than 10 years prison, not more than life. Fine up to $4 million
100-999 kg Not less than 5 years prison, not more than 40 years. Fine up to $2 million
50-99 kg Up to 20 years imprisonment. Fine up to $1 million
50 kg or less Up to 5 years imprisonment. Fine up to $250,000
Methamphetamine 50 grams or more Not less than 10 years prison, not more than life. Fine up to $4 million
10-49 grams Not less than 5 years prison, not more than 40 years. Fine up to $2 million
10 grams or less 10-21 months prison. Fine up to $1 million
PCP 100 grams or more Not less than 10 years prison, not more than life. Fine up to $4 million
10-99 grams Not less than 5 years prison, not more than 40 years. Fine up to $2 million
10 grams or less 10-21 months prison. Fine up to $1 million
Rohypnol 1 gram or more Up to 20 years imprisonment. Fine up to $1 million
less than 30 mgs Up to 5 years imprisonment. Fine up to $250,000

Federal Drug Possession Penalties (21 USC 844)

Persons convicted on Federal charges of possessing any controlled substance face penalties of up to 1 year in prison and a mandatory fine of no less than $1,000 up to a maximum of $100,000. Second convictions are punishable by not less than 15 days but not more than 2 years in prison and a minimum fine of $2,500. Subsequent convictions are punishable by not less than 90 days but not more than 3 years in prison and a minimum fine of $5,000. Possession of drug paraphernalia is punishable by a minimum fine of $750.

Special sentencing provisions for possession of crack cocaine impose a mandatory prison term of not less than 5 years but not more than 20 years and a fine up to $250,000, or both if:

  1. It is a first conviction and the amount of crack possessed exceeds 5 grams;
  2. It is a second conviction and the amount of crack possessed exceeds 3 grams;
  3. It is a third or subsequent crack conviction and the amount exceeds 1 gram.

Civil penalties of up to $10,000 may also be imposed for possession of small amounts of controlled substances, whether or not criminal prosecution is pursued.