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What are the penalties for drug possession?

WVEC reports U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 16.5 pounds of cocaine from a ship docked at the Port of Norfolk. The CBP estimated the value of the contraband at $225,000.

The drug trade continues to be a reality of life on Virginia soil. What may be the consequences of drug possession?

Drug schedules and substance severity

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies drugs into five categories. The ranking dictates the federal government’s view of the medical value and potential for abuse of a substance. The State of Virginia expands from the DEA list with the inclusion of a sixth category.

Schedule I drugs have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedules II drugs have a high potential for abuse and psychological or physical dependence but have allowed medical uses. Schedule III drugs are less addictive than Schedule II, Schedule IV a lower risk than Schedule III and Schedule V as the least dangerous drugs.

Schedule VI refers to nondrug substances or chemicals used recreationally as drugs. Examples would be the toluene sniffed from paint, glue, nail polish remover or cleaning fluids.

Penalties for drug possession in Virginia

Possession of a Schedule I or II drug is a Class 5 felony. The charges can bring up to 10 years of incarceration, a fine of up to $2,500 or a combination of fine and confinement.

Schedules III through VI are misdemeanors, with Schedule III bringing the strictest sentences and Schedule VI, the lightest. The only exception is marijuana, which ranks as a Schedule I drug but is a misdemeanor offense in Virginia.

Since state and federal penalties vary, navigating a drug case is challenging. Many individuals charged with possession look for reliable legal assistance to guard their rights and receive a fair trial.

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