What You Need to Know About Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance Laws

Controlled substances are medications with straight regulations because of their potential abuse. In Pennsylvania, controlled substances are regulated and classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). If you want to learn more about controlled substance laws in Pennsylvania, continue reading this article.

Classification of Controlled Substances in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law categorizes all controlled substances into five categories.

Each controlled substance falls under a “schedule” based on numerous factors, including:

  • The drug’s potential risk
  • The drug’s potential for dependency and abuse
  • The drugs’ degree of medical acceptance
  • The prolonged effects of usage
  • Whether the drug is a gateway drug

Pennsylvania categorizes the classification of a controlled substance as the following::

Schedule I: These drugs have no accepted medical use and have the highest potential for dependency. Some examples of Schedule I drugs include opium derivatives, hallucinogens, and marijuana.

Schedule II: These drugs have limited medical use and high dependency potential. Some examples of Schedule II drugs include morphine, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Schedule III: These drugs have accepted medical use and have some potential for dependency. Some examples of Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids, codeine, and HGH.

Schedule IV: These drugs are often prescription drugs and have less potential for dependency. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs include Valium and Xanax.

Schedule V: These drugs are accepted for medical use and have the least potential for dependency. Some examples of Schedule V drugs include minimal amounts of codeine and cough syrup.

Simple Possession vs. Intent to Deliver (PWID) in Pennsylvania

There are two types of controlled substance possession charges in Pennsylvania: simple possession and possession with intent to distribute (PWID). The main difference between the charges is simple possessions are misdemeanors, whereas possessions with intent to distribute are felonies. While both charges involve possession of controlled substances, a judge in Pennsylvania will charge someone with possession with intent to distribute if the defendant possesses a copious amount of drugs. The presence of paraphernalia can also serve as evidence to prove the intent to distribute controlled substances.

Drug Paraphernalia in Pennsylvania

Individuals in Pennsylvania may get in legal trouble if law enforcement finds an individual with drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia refers to equipment used to produce, consume, and conceal drugs.

Examples of items that are considered drug paraphernalia include:

  • Baggies
  • Rolling papers
  • Bongs
  • Scales
  • Syringes
  • Plant Growth Devices

A guilty conviction of possession of drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania has the penalties of:

  • Up to $25,000 fine
  • A maximum sentence of 1 year in prison
  • Misdemeanor on criminal record

Prescription Fraud Without a Prescription in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, possessing prescription drugs without a prescription is strictly illegal. In the event of a prescription fraud conviction, courts can convict even a pharmacist licensed to prescribe drugs of possession with intent to distribute.

A guilty conviction of prescription fraud in Pennsylvania has the penalties of:

  • Up to $15,000 fine
  • A maximum sentence of 7 years
  • Felony on criminal record

Pennsylvania Drug Court

The Pennsylvania Drug Court offers offenders with substance abuse convictions the opportunity for rehabilitation and treatment under supervision instead of a prison sentence. A convicted offender must adhere to strict guidelines to gain admittance to the Pennsylvania Drug Court. To be accepted into the Pennsylvania Drug Court, an offender is not allowed to be under parole or have a previous criminal record. On average, admittance to the Pennsylvania Drug Court is an 18-month program.

To graduate from the Pennsylvania Drug Court, the defendant must do the following:

  • Successfully complete the treatment program
  • Minimum of six months of consistent negative tests for drugs and alcohol

FAQs About Pennsylvania Controlled Substances

Which drug offenses are considered federal crimes?

Drug trafficking, possession of numerous drugs, and/or involvement of weapons in a drug crime are federal crimes.

What is the sentence if I am convicted of possession of controlled substances?

Your sentence depends on the drug classification and the amount of possession.

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