What are “drug crimes”?

When we speak of drug crimes in California, we mean the offenses and infractions defined and penalized under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. The Uniform Controlled Substances Act is Division 10 of the California Health and Safety Code.

Article 1 defines offenses involving narcotics, Article 2 defines offenses relating to Cannabis and Medical marijuana. Article 3 defines offenses involving peyote. Article 4 defines miscellaneous offenses and provisions. Article 5 defines crimes relating to controlled substances formerly classified as restricted dangerous drugs. Article 6 defines offenses relating to methamphetamine. Article 7 deals with offenses relating to mushrooms.

Generally, the Health and Safety Code regulates the work and legal responsibilities of pharmacists, veterinarians and other medical and health care providers who happen to prescribe and use drugs in their profession.

What drug crimes are penalized under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act?

Chapter 6 of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act defines the offenses involving controlled substances which were formerly called and classified as ‘narcotics’. In this division are included, among others, the crimes of:

  • possession of controlled or restricted substances without prescription
  • possession for purpose of sale or purchase for sale
  • transportation and importation of substances
  • dispensing and furnishing prescription drugs without license
  • cultivation, harvesting, drying or processing of plant sources of peyote, opium, coca, mushrooms, etc.
  • Possession of paraphernalia for manufacturing, processing, converting, deriving, analyzing, storing, packaging controlled or dangerous substances
  • possession of devices, instruments, or paraphernalia for injecting or smoking controlled or dangerous substances
  • inducing a minor to purchase, sell or possess, etc.

What is the Juvenile Drug Trafficking and Schoolyard Act of 1988?

This law amended the Uniform Controlled Substances Act and added other criminal offenses that involved minors and sales of controlled, regulated or dangerous substances to minors as well as sales within school premises. It comprises Section 11353.6.

What other crimes are included?

It includes offenses for selling controlled substances in public parks or recreation areas, selling “fake” drugs or passing off fake or counterfeit drugs as controlled substances. It further imposes heavier penalties for selling large quantities or large values of controlled substances. It also imposes higher penalties for subsequent offenses or infractions.

Article 2.5 describes the medical marijuana program, defines who are qualified patient or person with an identification card, lists the medical conditions for which medical marijuana may be prescribed, and the regulations for the issuance of an identification card that entitles people to purchase and use medical marijuana.

It penalizes attempts or conspiracies to commit crimes of violence relating to controlled, dangerous or restricted substances. It penalizes the involvement in a continuing criminal enterprise to manufacture, distribute or sell these substances.

Are there other laws that apply to drug-related offenses?

The federal Controlled Substances Act, Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Control Act, and other laws that punish illegal drug supply and drug demand also apply. These generally penalize inter-state or international sale or transport of drugs.

What do we mean by controlled, restricted or dangerous substances?

When we say, “controlled, restricted, or dangerous substances” we mean substances that used to be called “narcotics” or “drugs”. They include: heroin, coca leaf and its derivatives, precursors and bases, phencyclidine (PCP), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, cannabis, methamphetamine, gamma hydroxybutyric acid, flunitrazepam and other substances mentioned or listed in pharmacological schedules as dangerous, controlled or restricted, and those which may be purchased and used only upon prescription by a medical or health care professional.

The California Penal Code has classified drugs into five categories called schedules. Schedule I drugs are those prohibited as they are never safe to use, they do not have accepted medical use and are not safe to use even under medical supervision.

Schedule II drugs are those which have some medically accepted safe use, but they have a high potential to be abused. They have currently accepted medical use in the US or they are currently accepted for medical use but with severe restrictions because abuse of these substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Thus, Schedule II drugs require a prescription to be used legally.

Schedule III, IV and V drugs are drugs commonly used as medications and they are not illegal however, their use are regulated as they are addictive. They cause limited physical or psychological dependence.

The term “controlled substances” refer to and include opium, opium derivatives, opiates; hallucinogenic substances; stimulants; depressants and steroids.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Trafficking is an offense that includes possession of dangerous, controlled or restricted substances with intent to distribute, manufacture, import or export. It also includes the manufacturing, processing, dispensing, delivering, unlawful distribution or sale of such substances.

What is Narco-Terrorism?

Narco-terrorism is the act of engaging in prohibited drug activity knowingly and with the intent to provide pecuniary value to terrorists or terrorist activities. It includes engaging in financial transactions with foreign narcotics traffickers, racketeering enterprises involving controlled substances, possession of ammunition and firearms to engage in drug trafficking crime.

What is Drug Racketeering?

Drug Racketeering are activities the include the commission of drug felonies or offenses to invest in, acquire, operate or participate in the affairs of an interstate drug enterprise. It includes activities such as smuggling of controlled substances and laundering money from transactions involving drug trafficking. It also involves tax offenses in connection with tax evasion, willfully failing to file income tax returns or making fraudulent of false statements in tax returns to conceal drug trafficking and other financial activities relating to drug trafficking.

Are you or a loved one facing a drug charge? Do you wish to know more? The following pages explain with more detail the drug offenses and their penalties. If you wish to speak with a criminal defense attorney or seek legal advice related to a drug charge, call and speak any of the criminal defense attorneys at the Ramiro J. Lluis Law Office, they are always willing to help.