When is Selling Drugs a Federal Offense vs. a State Crime?

In addition to carrying a stigma, drug crimes are often punishable by heavy fines and long prison terms. Many drug crimes, such as possession and intent to distribute, are prosecuted on the state level. However, depending on the quantity, type, location, and whether you cross state lines, you could face federal charges. Regardless of whether you are arrested for a federal or state crime, if you are charged with intent to distribute, or any other drug offense in Florida, you need experienced legal help.

Controlled Substances Act

In 1970, Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), which combined all previous federal drug statutes into a single law. The CSA regulates the distribution and manufacture of illegal substances such as narcotics, depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants. The federal statute classifies drugs into five “Schedules” based on their potential for abuse and their medical benefits to society:

  • I — Includes ecstasy, LSD, heroin, and marijuana
  • II — Includes cocaine and morphine
  • III — Includes anabolic steroids, Vicodin, and Marinol
  • IV — Includes Ambien, Xanax, and Valium
  • V — Includes Lyrica and cough suppressant

The penalties you face depend on the schedule, the amount, and your drug crime history. States have their own drug laws and penalties, but generally try to adhere to the CSA.

Federal vs. State

Federal laws generally focus on movement across state borders, such as drug trafficking. For example, if you cross state lines with a large quantity of a controlled substance, you may be charged with the federal offense of drug trafficking. You may also be charged with a federal drug offense if you are caught selling drugs on government property. Or, you may face federal drug selling charges if you sell and transport drugs using the United States Post Office or a private mail carrier.

State laws focus on possession and manufacturing. It is also important to understand that while recently many states have decriminalized marijuana possession, it remains illegal under federal law.

Federal drug crime defense lawyer fights for Florida residents

If you are arrested for a drug crime in Florida, the Law Office of Nayib Hassan, P.A., is ready to provide you with experienced defense counsel. Call (305) 403-7323 or contact us online to speak with an experienced drug crime attorney in Florida today.