With recreational marijuana being legal here, many Coloradans might forget that marijuana is the only legal drug. Other drugs and controlled substances are still against the law.
Some might hold out hope for the legalization of other illicit substances – but they shouldn’t hold their breath. A recent poll shows that when it comes to other drugs such as LSD, mushrooms, cocaine, heroin, meth, MDMA, and ibogaine, Americans are overwhelmingly against decriminalization, legalization for medical use, and legalization for recreational use.
Although legalizing these controlled substances doesn’t seem likely any time soon, there are some interesting discrepancies between what Americans think and what’s really happening with the law and medicine. For example, cocaine and meth are actually legal for limited medical use. Meth is used to treat obesity and ADHD, while cocaine is used as a topical anesthetic because it reduces bleeding at the point of incision during surgery.
As for hallucinogens – acid (LSD), ecstasy (MDMA), mushrooms (psilocybin), and ibogaine – research is still preliminary, but there are claims that these drugs can potentially help treat nicotine addiction, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ibogaine has also been recognized for treating heroin or opioid painkiller addiction for months – or even longer – at a time.
Unfortunately, trying to argue that a currently illegal drug can do a lot of good isn’t going to help you much if you are charged. You need to understand the laws and penalties of our state so that you know what you are up against – and how to fight it.
Drug Possession Laws and Penalties in Colorado
In Colorado, drugs are classified into five different categories according to the likelihood that someone would abuse them.
- Schedule I drugs have a high likelihood of abuse and no accepted medical use. Heroin and synthetic opiates are examples of Schedule I drugs.
- Schedule II drugs have a high likelihood of abuse, have an accepted medical use, but can have serious physical and psychological dependence if abused. Opium and opium derivatives are examples of Schedule II drugs.
- Schedule III drugs like anabolic steroids are less likely to be abused than Schedule I or II drugs, have an accepted medical use, and can have moderate physical and psychological dependence.
- Schedule IV drugs such as lorazepam have lower rates of abuse and limited dependence.
- Schedule V drugs are the least dangerous controlled substances that have very small amounts of certain narcotic drugs.
Felony Controlled Substance Possession
Most drug possession is a felony offense, but depending on the Schedule of the drug and the amount of the controlled substance, you could be looking at a variety of felony classes.
Class 4 Felony
Someone can be charged with a Class 4 felony if he or she:
- Possesses more than four grams of a substance that contains any amount of ketamine, flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), or any other Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance.
- Possesses two grams or more of any substance that contains any amount of methamphetamine.
Class 4 felonies are punishable by 2 to 6 years in prison and a fine between $2,000 and $500,000.
Class 6 Felony
Someone can be charged with a Class 6 felony if he or she:
- Possesses four grams or less of a substance that contains any amount of ketamine, flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), or any other Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance.
- Possesses two grams or less of any substance that contains any amount of methamphetamine.
Class 6 felonies are punishable by one year to 18 months in prison and a fine between $1,000 and $100,000.
Misdemeanor Controlled Substance Possession
If someone possesses any substance that has any amount of a Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substance other than ketamine or Rohypnol, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by 6 to 18 months in prison and a fine between $500 and $5,000.
Possession of synthetic marijuana or salvia divinorum is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by 3 months to one year in jail and a fine between $250 and $1,000.
It is also illegal to use other controlled substances besides marijuana. Illegally using controlled substances is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Maybe someday we will see additional controlled substances legalized or decriminalized as we learn more about them and how they might benefit our lives. But until then, take care. Drug charges in our state are taken very seriously, and can have repercussions that you will have to live with for your entire life. So if you are accused of possession of any drug, fight back with the help of an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney to get those charges reduced, dismissed, or dropped.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.