Drugs are a major part of the American economy, especially when you add up all the money that goes into research and development, manufacturing, transportation, advertising, healthcare costs for prescriptions, and over-the-counter purchases. Because of concerns about public health and safety—not to mention the interests of the pharmaceutical industry—every aspect of this business, from clinical trials to television ads, is overseen by federal and state regulatory bodies.
For instance, anyone who is given authority to handle or deal with medical products or devices must adhere to strict practice and licensing procedures. This includes physicians, pharmacists, medical personnel, healing arts practitioners, drug manufacturers, and sales representatives. The regulations under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act are meant to protect the public from unsafe drugs or medical devices.
On a parallel track, there are federal and state laws on the books that attempt to control the unauthorized possession, sale, or distribution of drugs considered to be illegal or dangerous. In brief, this includes any drug that has no legitimate medical benefit (for instance, heroin or cocaine) and drugs that you can only get with an authorized medical prescription (such as OxyContin). When you face charges for the sale of illegal drugs, you need a skilled and knowledgeable drug and sales distribution attorney from Michael Fulcher Law to help.
The current status of “recreational drugs”—substances with mind- or mood-altering effects that are pleasurable—is murky, especially since there is no consensus about which drugs or substances should be classified as such. Federal and state laws don’t recognize recreational drugs as a category. Instead, any substance that does not have a recognized medical use, such as ecstasy, LSD, MDMA, and marijuana, is usually classified under the Controlled Substances schedules—which makes them illegal.
What is a controlled substance in Georgia?
The Georgia Controlled Substances Act defines several classes of drugs as controlled substances, including narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and marijuana. Although several states have removed marijuana from their list of illegal controlled substances, the status of this drug has not changed in Georgia. In fact, it still is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, with the same potential for abuse as heroin.
The following is an overview of how medications and dangerous drugs are classified by the Controlled Substance Act using Schedules I through V:
- Schedule I: Drugs with no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse, such as heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, LSD, peyote, and other hallucinogens.
- Schedule II: Drugs with high potential for abuse and extreme psychological or physical dependence, such as cocaine, fentanyl, morphine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, Adderall, and Ritalin.
- Schedule III: Drugs with moderate potential for psychological or physical dependence, such as codeine, ketamine, steroids, and testosterone.
- Schedule IV: Drugs with low risk of abuse or dependence, such as Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and Tramadol.
- Schedule V: Drugs with low risk of abuse or dependence that contain limited amounts of narcotics, such as certain brands of cough medicine.
The Georgia legal system has strict laws for drug crimes, especially those that involve the sale and distribution of dangerous drugs. Enforcing these laws is not easy and figuring out appropriate penalties is complicated by mandatory sentencing guidelines that give judges less leeway in how they will adjudicate these cases. For instance, a conviction for selling heroin is an automatic felony with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 years, with the option to extend that to 30 years. The sentence for a second offense is life imprisonment.
In addition, the court’s final determination is usually influenced by a host of mitigating factors, including how the drug is classified (Schedule I versus Schedule V), the amount of the substance in question, prior arrest history, and the circumstances of the arrest. If there is any indication that the defendant was intending to distribute or sell the drugs, the punishment immediately becomes more serious and is treated as a felony.
The state also imposes stringent penalties for certain Schedule IV drugs that can be used to cause egregious injury to another person. An example of this is Rohypnol, a powerful tranquilizer commonly known as “roofies” or the “date rape drug.” Although it is technically a Schedule IV controlled substance, Georgia courts will use Schedule I or II guidelines when they are sentencing someone for a Rohypnol drug offense.
Georgia drug laws are complicated. This is why it’s so important to secure the representation of a seasoned sales and distribution offense attorney who understands how the system in Georgia defines and prosecutes the different types of drug crimes. Working with a law firm that can help you present a strong case is your best chance at getting a fair trial and minimizing the penalties you’re facing. Michael Fulcher Law knows how to protect your freedom and future.