Law & Legal & Attorney Health Law

Prison Terms for Drug Offenses

    The Minimum

    • Congress enacted mandatory minimum sentencing laws in 1986 for drug offenders. The minimum sentence a drug offender can receive depends on three factors: the number of prior convictions, type of drug and weight of drug mixture. Those convicted of a drug offense may reduce their sentence if they are willing to aid the prosecution in further investigations. For example, if the convicted is willing to give up her drug source, or inform authorities of future drug deals, she might be able to have her sentence lowered.


    • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has the responsibility of creating the minimum sentences for those convicted of drug trafficking. These sentences vary, based on the drug in question. For example, those caught trafficking between 500 and 4,999 grams of cocaine face a minimum five years and maximum 40 years in prison. If someone is injured or killed in the process, the minimum prison term leaps to 20 years. These prison terms increase if the convicted has a prior offense. The quantity of the drug being trafficked also increases the prison term. For example, those who traffic 5 kgs or more of cocaine face a minimum 10-year sentence.


    • Marijuana has become legal in some states, such as California, for those who use it for medical purposes. Those who do use it for medical purposes must obtain a medical marijuana card. However, recreational use of marijuana is still considered a crime in California. Those caught with 28.5 grams or less of marijuana are charged with an infraction and a $100 fine. State marijuana laws vary. There is a disconnect between state and federal laws. Federal marijuana laws are more strict. Those caught with any amount of marijuana will be incarcerated for 1 year and fined $1,000 upon their first conviction.


    • The best way to avoid a prison term related to drug abuse is to simply not experiment with drugs in the first place. As simple as this sounds, it does not prevent people from becoming drug addicts. Drug addicts can experience physical aliments when they begin to withdraw, such as restlessness, insomnia, sweating, anxiety, shaking, nausea and depression. Luckily, numerous drug treatment programs exist to help addicts clean up their act before they end up in prison. These programs are anonymous and free to join. Programs can help battle addictions to marijuana, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, meth and more.

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