Drug Possession Laws & Penalties

The punishments in the state of Massachusetts vary based on the type of drug that the person is found in possession of. For the understanding of the different types, the 4 classes will be described as to make the difference more clear.

Classification of Controlled Substances

  • Class A-These are the most severe drugs that involve the highest dangers as well as the highest potential to be abused. These include heroin and morphine, among others.
  • Class B-These are drugs that have currently been approved for medical use under careful doctor observation, but are frequently misused leading to very serious effects. These include oxycodone, amphetamines, and cocaine.
  • Class C-Continuing to less severe drugs with less severe consequences, these level C drugs provided temporary feelings of confusion or forgetfulness. These are drugs such as Diazepam and Lorazepam.
  • Class D-These are considered more “recreational” drugs, and have minor likelihood of permanent damage to the abuser. Examples are marijuana and hashish.

In Massachusetts all chargeable drug violations are considered felonies. This indicates that the state takes drugs very seriously and is aggressively looking to curtail their use. The punishments for drug possession are dependent on the class of drug as well as the amount of the drug.

Examples of Possession

There are many of examples of ways that people can be charged for drug possession. For some people, they are found in possession of a small quantity of the drug, and they use it for their own personal use. These are the lesser crimes that have been “decriminalized” to include fines with no jail time.

For larger quantities of drugs, there are a lot of options that exist. The person may be trafficking in the drugs and looking for dealers interested in large quantity purchases, and organize the exchange of the drugs for money.

Others possessing larger amounts may be dealers themselves, and have the intent to sell the drugs to people in order to make a profit.

There are some criminals that capitalize on the youth drug user market, and can be charged for either enticing a minor to use or distribute the drugs, or for personally selling the drugs individually to those under 18. If that business is transacting in the vicinity of any school or park land in the state of Massachusetts, the violator automatically receives a mandatory sentence extension of two years.

Possession Punishments

There are punishments involved in the possession of some drugs that are less dependent on the type of drug. In the case of inducing a person under the age of 18 to sell drugs, there is a mandatory minimum five year sentence.

In the situation where the possession is determined to be within a certain proximity (in Massachusetts 300 feet) to a public school property, park or playground, there is an additional two years added to the sentence.

For offenders over the age of 18, being caught with less than an ounce of marijuana has been “decriminalized” to where there is no criminal charges brought against them and no punishments assigned to them. They pay a $100 fine for the possession, and they are back to their life. For offenders under the age of 18, the same rules apply, with the additional requirement of completing a drug awareness program within a year of resolution.

For other drug charges, the felony status explains that any prison time will be spent in state penitentiaries, and will have more severe times and sentences. The following summary reviews the Massachusetts standard sentencing for drug possession. By using the ranges of jail time listed, the amount of time on the left side is the mandatory minimum sentence, and towards the right is the maximum sentence.

For first or second time offenders, the sentences will be closer to the left end of the spectrum, and previous offenders with past convictions and larger quantities of drugs will see their sentences on the right end of the line.

  • Class A                3-----------------------20 years in state prison
  • Class B                3-----------------------20 years in state prison
  • Class C                1-----------------------15 years in state prison
  • Class D                1-----------------------15 years in state prison

For larger quantities, the minimum sentences can increase to 3 or 5 years, with the maximum sentences being as listed above.

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