Penalties: Drug Distribution

by Jamison Koehler on October 6, 2009

The penalty in D.C. for a conviction for drug distribution or possession with intent to distribute depends on the type of drug involved. In earlier posts, I described how the D.C. Code groups controlled substances into five schedules depending on the drug’s potential for abuse and its level of acceptable medical uses in treatment. The most serious drugs – those with a high potential for abuse or with no accepted medical uses in treatment – are in Schedule I. The least serious drugs – those with relatively low potential for abuse and many accepted medical uses – are in Schedule V.

A first conviction for drug distribution of a Schedule I or II substance that qualifies as a “narcotic or abusive drug” carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum $500,000 fine. The maximum sentence for a conviction for a Schedule I, II, or III substance that is not a “narcotic or abusive drug” is 5 years along with a maximum $50,000 fine. The maximum penalty for a Schedule IV substance is 3 years and $25,000 fine, and the maximum for a Schedule V substance is 1 year and a $10,000 fine.

Distributing a counterfeit substance or attempting or conspiring to distribute a controlled substance carries the same range of penalties as described above.

The maximum penalty is doubled for a second or subsequent conviction of drug distribution. The maximum penalty can also be doubled for distributing drugs to minors or distributing in a drug free zone.

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