Being convicted of a drug-related offense can affect a person’s professional goals and future as the damaging effects of a crime goes well beyond any courtroom and much longer than any jail term. A drug crime includes manufacture, sale, distribution, possession and use of banned drugs and drug paraphernalia, such as heroin, marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), methamphetamine, and cocaine. Cocaine, specifically, is the second most widely used illegal drug in the US (marijuana is the first). It has been classified by the US Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as a Schedule II drug, a drug that has a high potential for abuse, though doctors may administer it for certain medical reasons. (The CSA, which is Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, was signed by the US Congress into law in 1970; this federal drug policy aims to regulate the importation, manufacture, possession, distribution and use of different substances.) The widespread use of cocaine in the US happened during the latter part of the 1800s, becoming a common use among factory, rail road and textile mill workers for continuous or increased productivity, especially despite extended hours of work. This highly addictive and powerful stimulant is still used by many high-earning employees today, earning for itself the name, “rich man’s drug.” However, even college students and young adults use it as a “party drug” to help them stay awake throughout any cheerful social gathering. Cocaine’s addictive effects only make users take it more frequently, the amount increasing on each use. Individuals charged with possession of this illegal drug are bound to suffer the heavy punishments stipulated in the United States Code (USC) of Controlled Substances Act, such as:
- Maximum of 12 months imprisonment plus up to a $1,000 fine (for first time offenders);
- Maximum of 24 months imprisonment plus up to a $2,500 fine (for second time offenders); or,
- Maximum of 36 months imprisonment plus up to a $5,000 fine of, at least, $5,000 (for third time offenders).
Sellers and/or distributors of cocaine are made to pay higher fines and given longer jail terms, especially if the activity involving this drug is linked to an injury or death. Whether a person calls it coke, dust, toot, white dragon, uptown, or charlie, a cocaine-related crime remains a very serious offense that requires a really strong defense from an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer.