In Massachusetts, controlled substances are classified from A to E, with Class A drugs considered the most dangerous. Here is a breakdown of the various controlled substance classifications and potential penalties for simple drug possession charges followed by the possible penalties for drug trafficking or distribution.

Class A

Highly addictive substances such as such as heroin, morphine and GHB.

First offense: Up to one year in jail.
Second offense: Two and a half to five years in prison.

Class B

These controlled substances are considered very addictive and include cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, Oxycontin and LSD. These also include other drugs commonly prescribed for those with ADHD, such as Adderall and Ritalin.

First Offense: Up to one year in jail.
Second offense: Up to two years in jail.

Class C

Considered to be less dangerous as Class B substances, including Valium, Klonopin, Vicodin, Ativan, Dexedrine and certain hallucinogens such as mescaline and magic mushrooms.

First offense: Up to one year in jail.
Second offense: Up to two years in jail.

Class D

This includes many substances, but the most common drug under this class is marijuana.

Penalties for possession of marijuana vary by amount and age.

Those over 21 years of age may possess up to an ounce of marijuana anywhere in Massachusetts and may keep up to ten ounces in their home.  They may also cultivate up to six marijuana plants (with a maximum of twelve plants per home). Possession outside of your home, of more than once ounce but less than two ounces results in a civil fine civil fine of $100 (similar to a traffic ticket).

For those between the ages of 18 and 21 possession of two ounces or less results in a civil fine of $100 (similar to a traffic ticket).  If you are under the age of 18 you pay the same fine, but must also attend an approved drug awareness program.

For all ages groups possession of more than two ounces constitutes a misdemeanor; up to 6 months in jail; fine of $500 and suspension of driver’s license for one year.

Class E

These are relatively mild prescription drugs likenarcotics with codeine and certain anti-anxiety drugs.

First offense:  usually probation or CWOF*.

If you are caught using someone else’s prescription, or a fraudulently obtained prescription, the penalties can be more severe.

*Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF)

A possible outcome that we may consider in working with you regarding a drug possession charge is to obtain an alternative disposition known as a Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF). This result may require you to simply serve as little as a 6-month probation. This path is an option only if we determine that that charges are not likely to be beaten or you decide you do not want to fight the charges for some other reason. We will discuss such alternatives with you as we work on your defense.

Drug Distribution and Penalties:

The penalties for distribution are severe, including the risk of prison time.

First Offense: Up to 2 years in jail or a house of correction, regardless of whether the drug was Class A, Class B or even marijuana.
Second Offense: More serious consequences especially based on the drug and the location. For example, in the case of heroin distribution, you face up to five years in prison. Distribution within a school zone or public park can result in harsher penalties, including a mandatory  minimum of two years in a jail or house of correction.

We’re here to answer your questions and help you throughout the process

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