How Have The Drug Laws Evolved Over The Years In Massachusetts?

If anything, the drug laws have gotten a little less stringent during my career. Near the beginning of my career, they were tougher with regard to distribution of drugs in school zones. This meant that there was an added severe penalty for certain drug dealing crimes committed within 1000 feet of a school regardless of the time of day or night and regardless of whether the school was open. Since that time they have loosened up some of the restrictions. For instance, in the past, if you kept the drugs you were dealing drugs in your home and your home was within 1000 feet of a public school, it would be a school zone violation with an additional penalty regardless of whether you were selling from your home; regardless of the time of the day or night; and regardless of whether people were even at the school. In the last few years the laws have changed that so that it won’t be the same crime, unless it’s done between 5 a.m. and midnight. Further, the required distance from the school for a school zone violation was reduced from 1000 feet from the school to 300 feet.

Another way that Massachusetts has lessened its drug laws is by decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Now any person can possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and it will only be civil penalty like a traffic ticket. It is a $100 fine for a first offense. It’s a civil penalty, not a criminal penalty, which has changed the landscape significantly. In addition, Massachusetts introduced a medical marijuana law a few years ago that allows people to possess and cultivate various amounts of marijuana.

What Are The Most Common Drug Offenses That You Handle?

We handle a lot of offense for simple possession of drugs. These are people who aren’t usually drug dealers, but are drug users. Common cases are made up of people who possess more than one ounce of marijuana or any amount of cocaine, heroin, oxycontin, oxycodone, Fentanyl and other illegal prescription drugs.

We also handle a lot of cases involving people who are, in fact, dealing or charged with some sort of a crime that relates to drug dealing, such as possession of a drug with the intent to distribute and drug distribution.

We also have handled a number of trafficking cases over the years. Trafficking involves possession of a certain amount / weight of particular drugs. These amounts are typically very large amounts of a particular drug. Trafficking, which is one of the more serious drug offenses, which typically carries stiff mandatory sentence.

How Is A Drug Charge Determined To be Either A Misdemeanor Or A Felony In Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts felonies and misdemeanors are defined by whether or not there’s any possibility of a sentence that involves being sent to  state prison. In Massachusetts most possessory crimes, meaning simple possession of drugs, like marijuana, cocaine or heroin are misdemeanors. Most distribution crimes, which involve drug dealers or someone who is trafficking in drugs, would be felonies. Of course there are exceptions to this. The distribution or dealing of a Class D drug, such as marijuana, in smaller amounts is not considered a felony. Class E, which includes most prescription drugs other than opiates, is not considered a felony even if you’re dealing in small amounts.

What Is An Unlawful Controlled Substance?

This is specifically defined in Massachusetts by law. Chapter 94C, section 31 of the Massachusetts General Laws defines the different drugs which are considered controlled substances.  This law gets really specific based upon the chemical compounds within the drugs. There’s a whole schedule of different types of chemicals that constitute a certain class. The classes in Massachusetts are A through E. There are different types of drugs within each class. The most common Class A drugs would be heroin and other opiates.

The most common Class B drugs would be cocaine, methamphetamines, percocet, oxycontin and oxycodone. Class C drugs are what they refer to as central nervous system depressants, such as barbiturates or downers. Most fall within that category. Class D is most commonly marijuana, and Class E covers a variety of other prescription drugs, including steroids.

For more information on Evolution Of Drug Laws, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (617) 227-8383 today.

Michael A. Contant, Esq.

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