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Understanding Controlled Substances

Punishments for drug crimes vary widely in California. Some offenses such as those involving personal consumption or marijuana typically result in infractions or misdemeanor charges. On the other hand, drug crimes like trafficking, possession with intent to sell, and manufacturing can lead to felony charges and harsher punishments.


The seriousness of your offense will largely depend upon California’s controlled substance schedule, which is outlined in the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. This is based on the U.S. Controlled Substances Act which defines drugs by ranking them by their harmfulness, according to the government.

The controlled substances schedule includes:



The most dangerous and addictive drugs that are not considered to serve any medicinal purpose, including heroin, LSD, ecstasy, peyote, and marijuana.


These drugs are also highly addictive and may have some medicinal purposes. They include cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine, Adderall, Ritalin, and many prescription pain killers.


Substances that have the potential for abuse but are widely available through prescriptions. This Schedule includes testosterone, steroids, ketamine, drugs with less than 90 milligrams of codeine.


These drugs have a lower risk of abuse and addiction, yet can be harmful. These include Valium, Ambien, and Xanax.


Most of these substances are available through a prescription but can be harmful if taken irresponsibly or in large doses. These include cough suppressants, antidiarrheal medications, and certain pain medications.

Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug in California; however, possession, sale, and other related activities related to marijuana have been decriminalized and the penalties have been greatly reduced.


California Drug Crimes

With over 20 years of experience defending individuals just like you who have been caught up in the criminal justice system, attorney Elliot Silver has successfully defended virtually every type of drug case. This level of skill and insight gives attorney Silver an edge in any courtroom and makes Silver Law Firm more than prepared to represent you against any drug offense.


Some of the most common drug charges (California Health and Safety Code Drug Sections 11350-11651) in California include:



Drug Possession

Depending on the type and amount of drug you have on your person or within your control, you could face a misdemeanor or felony offense. Simple possession of an amount for personal use is considered an infraction or a misdemeanor. Felony offenses are charged when the drugs are found in larger quantities and allegedly possessed for sale.


Transportation of a Controlled Substance

You will face higher charges and punishments if you are caught transporting a controlled substance. If you cross state lines, you can expect the offense to be charged as a federal crime.


Drug Trafficking

This offense includes the import, export, transport, distribution, and sale of controlled substances within the state. If there is evidence you participated in any of these crimes, you will be charged with a felony.


Manufacturing a Controlled Substance

It is illegal to manufacture a controlled substance without a valid license. If you are caught cooking drugs like meth, you will be charged with a felony.


Counterfeit Drug Offenses

It is illegal to make counterfeit prescription drugs. If you are caught manufacturing, trafficking, or selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals, you will be charged with a felony.


Prescription Drug Crimes

If there is evidence you illegally possessed, transported, or sold prescription medications, you will be charged with an offense. You could be charged with additional crimes if there is evidence you tampered with the labels or these drugs lead to another person’s injury or death.


Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

You are not allowed to own or carry with you any pipe, device, or instrument that enables you to smoke or ingest a controlled substance. If you are caught with the tools to use an illegal drug, like a glass pipe used for meth, you will typically face a misdemeanor charge.


Marijuana Crimes

Medicinal and recreational marijuana is now legal in California; however, the plant is highly regulated. If you step outside the law regarding marijuana whether you are a grower, business owner, or medicinal or recreational user, you may be confronted with infraction, misdemeanor, or felony charges.


Methamphetamine Crimes

If there is evidence you possessed a small amount of meth for personal use, you will face a misdemeanor offense. However, if there is evidence you manufactured, trafficked, intended to sell, or possessed a large quantity of meth, you may face a felony.


Cocaine Crimes

Possessing a small amount of cocaine for personal use is a misdemeanor offense. If there is evidence you possessed a large quantity for sale, were trafficking, or sold cocaine, then you will face a felony and much stricter punishments. Many of these crimes result in asset forfeiture of cars, houses, or cash