The Difference between Possession Charges and Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges

Interviewer: What’s the difference between possession versus intent to sell?  What’s the different and how are they charged?

Matthew Nebeker: The way that I see it, the way that it’s interpreted a lot is possession is where you have a small amount on you and you’re stopped or investigated and the officer just find a little amount. Sometimes they call it a personal use amount. You don’t have scales with you.  You don’t have a bunch of baggies with you.  You don’t have a large amount of cash on you.  You just have some for your personal use.  That’s just simple possession in my mind.

You have one or two pills, if it’s a prescription drug.  Like I mentioned earlier, you have less than an ounce of marijuana on you, I think that most prosecutors would call that just possession for your own personal use.

Possessing Drugs in Large Quantities Result in Intent to Distribute Charges

The opposite of that would be distribution, where the police stop you for DUI and they find, through the inventory search, they find a pound of marijuana or a whole bag of pills or a whole bunch of cocaine, along with a large quantity of cash, along with scales, things like that, that would show that you had an intent to distribute. That you are not just using this for personal use. That’s the difference between the two in just simpler terms.  It’s the intent there, through what the officer finds.

Having more than an Ounce of Marijuana results in Felony Charges whereas a having a Pinch of Cocaine also is classified as a Felony Charge

Interviewer: How much must one have in order for someone to get a misdemeanor versus a felony? Is it a matter of how much someone has when it comes to other harder drugs as well?

Matthew Nebeker: No. When it comes to marijuana, if you have more than an ounce, you could be in the A misdemeanor or felony range.  That’s the cut off for the marijuana.  If you’re growing marijuana and you have two or three plants in your backyard, that’s cultivation.  You could be charged with cultivation.  In that case, that would be a felony.  If you have more than an ounce – the more you have, the quicker you get into the felony range when it comes to marijuana.

When you have a prescription medication and schedule 1 type drug, like cocaine – if even you have a tiny amount – A pinch of cocaine. If you have that tiny amount on you, you are in the felony range.

Prescription Drugs are Not Treated Differently than Street Drugs as far as Prosecution is concerned

Interviewer: What about prescription drug cases? Are those handled any different than illegal drugs?  Are they handled with more leniency or the result’s the same?

Matthew Nebeker: In my opinion, they’re not.  It’s pretty straightforward on a lot of those cases.  Most of the time, the individual is not prescribed the drug.  Like I said earlier, that maybe they purchased it from someone off the street, or they’ve stolen it.

They’ve gone to a house party with their relatives and gone through the medicine cabinet and stole the medication.  The other side of that is there is typically a problem, a drug issue, an underlying addiction. Most of the time I’ve seen, with the prescription drugs, are not treated differently than the street drug cases when it comes to prosecution and plea deals or trials and even sentencing on a conviction.

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