Drug Charges in Alabama
Alabama has some of the strictest anti-drug laws in the nation. You don’t even need to possess an illicit drug to be prosecuted. Merely possessing drug paraphernalia — defined as anything that can help a person produce, store, sell, or use drugs — is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The same is true if you possess what are considered “precursor chemicals” for the production of an illicit drug, usually methamphetamine. For instance, paint thinner, rat poison, acetone, and even cold medicines are considered precursors to the manufacture of meth.
Possession of marijuana “for personal use” is a Class A misdemeanor carrying a sentence of one year in prison and a maximum fine of $6,000. Possession for any other reason can land you in prison for at least a year and a day — up to 10 years — and a fine of $15,000.
Notably, Alabama also added a Class D felony for possession of a controlled substance several years ago, which carries with it a penalty of a year and a day up to five years in prison.
The sale of a controlled substance is a Class B felony with a sentence of two to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $30,000. Sale to a minor is a Class A felony punishable by 10 years to life in prison and a fine of $60,000. Sale within three miles of a school or public housing project earns you an additional five years of imprisonment.
Cultivation of marijuana carries the same penalty as possession for other than personal reasons. Manufacturing a controlled substance, depending on factors, can be either a Class B or Class A felony. Class B becomes Class A depending on other circumstances, such as possessing a firearm, using a booby trap, or operating within 500 feet of any residence, business, church, or school.
Trafficking charges involve the sale, cultivation, or manufacture of a controlled substance. Trafficking is a felony, and penalties are tied to the amount being trafficked. For marijuana, the penalties by weight are:
- 2.2 to 100 pounds: Minimum sentence of three years in prison, with a maximum fine of $25,000.
- 100 to 500 pounds: Minimum of five years and a $50,000 fine.
- 500 to 1,000 pounds: Minimum of 15 years and a maximum fine of $200,000.
- 1,000 pounds or more: Life imprisonment mandatory.
For cocaine or any mixture containing cocaine, the weight-based penalties are:
- 28 to 499 grams: Three years and $50,000.
- 500 grams but less than 1 kilogram: Five years and $100,000.
- 1 but less than 10 kilograms: 15 years and $250,000.
- 10 kilograms or more: Life imprisonment mandatory.
Schedule of Controlled Substances
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) follows the federally mandated Schedule of Controlled Substances in the severity of charges involved with drug possession, manufacture, delivery, and sale. The state of Alabama adheres to the same standard. The schedule classifies drugs by their abuse or dependency potential:
- Schedule 1: Heroin, ecstasy, LSD, peyote, and marijuana.
- Schedule 2: Cocaine, meth, Vicodin, Demerol, oxycodone, fentanyl, Adderall, and Ritalin, among others.
- Schedule 3: Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dose, such as Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, steroids, and testosterone.
- Schedule 4: Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, and Tramadol.
- Schedule 5: Cough medicines with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin.
As you can see, it can be fairly easy to run afoul of the law when it comes to drug charges. If you’re facing a drug charge in Alabama, you need the best defense you can muster. Even mere possession for personal use of marijuana can land you in jail for the next 12 months. When charges escalate to sale, manufacture, or distribution, you have even more on the line in terms of possible jail time and fines.