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Possession of Controlled Substance Laws and Penalties in Minnesota

Drug crimes carry long sentences, especially when they involve Schedule I narcotics and intent to sell or manufacture illegal drugs. If you have been accused of a drug crime, Controlled substance laws indicated that the state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution often relies on illegally obtained evidence, false narratives, and doctored confessions to win.

Don’t let a faulty case land you behind bars. Contact Gerald Miller for expert drug crime defense.

What Drugs Are Illegal in Minnesota?

Minnesota law prohibits possessing, selling, and manufacturing many controlled substances. The state defines controlled substances as “Chemicals or drugs that have their use, manufacture, and possession controlled by the government.” Drug possession laws extend to illegal drugs and the possession of legal drugs without a prescription or legal authorization.

For instance, possessing Xanax prescribed to you is, of course, legal. However, a trade-in recreational Xanax exists on the street. Dealers obtain the drug through illicit sources and sell it, a severe crime. Also, some controlled substances are used in industrial and commercial applications but can be abused in the wrong hands. These types of chemicals have restrictions as well.

In essence, the government has created a list of controlled substances based on their high potential for abuse, cause dependency, and present danger to the public.

Minnesota law has controlled substance laws for a wide range of drugs, including the following:

  • Hallucinogens
  • Methamphetamines
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana for those without medical approval
  • Narcotics such as opiates or prescription medications


What Are the Drug Schedules in Minnesota?

Minnesota divides controlled substances into five categories, known as schedules. Schedule V drugs correspond to the lowest level offenses, while Schedule I are the most serious.

How Are Drug Schedules Determined?

The state bases the schedule of a drug on its addictive capacity and the likelihood of abuse. In addition, legitimate medical uses for drugs factor into its scheduling.

For example, heroin, a highly addictive opiate without medical uses, is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, making possessors of it subject to the most serious charges. At the other end of the spectrum, Schedule V drugs are ones with a low chance of abuse that have legitimate medical uses.

For example, cough syrups with codeine can be misused, but they are far less addictive and dangerous compared to heroin.

The state uses drug scheduling as part of its definition of the five degrees of drug crimes. Schedule V drugs tend to lead to low-level charges, while Schedule I offenses result in major felonies.

Five Degrees of Drug Crimes in Minnesota

For a drug case defendant, the degree charged is very consequential. It can make the difference between making bail and sitting in the county jail. The degree also bears on whether the defendant is eligible for probation, a short stint at the county, or an extended stay in a penitentiary. The degree depends on several factors, including the type of substance, the quantity, and where the drugs were found.

First Degree Drug Crimes

First-degree drug crimes carry the stiffest penalties.  They include the sale, possession, or manufacture of certain drugs above specified quantities, including the following:

First-Degree Drug Possession

  • Heroin – 25 grams or more
  • Methamphetamine or cocaine – 50 grams or more, or 25 grams with two aggravating factors
  • Marijuana – 110 pounds or more
  • Hallucinogens, amphetamine, PCP – 500 grams or 500 dosage units
  • Other narcotics – 500 grams or more


Manufacturing Methamphetamine

The manufacture of methamphetamine is also a first-degree drug crime in any amount.

Second-Degree Drug Crimes

In Minnesota, second-degree drug crimes are also divided into separate categories based on whether the defendant is accused of selling, possessing, or manufacturing the substance.

Second-degree selling includes the following offenses:

  • Marijuana – 22 pounds
  • Methamphetamine or cocaine – 17 grams or three grams with three aggravating factors
  • Schedule I narcotics to a minor in a park, school zone, or public housing
  • Amphetamine, hallucinogens, PCP – 50 doses
  • Heroin – 3 grams
  • Other narcotics – 10 grams

Second-degree possession includes the following offenses:

  • Heroin – 6 grams
  • Marijuana – 55 pounds or 100 plants
  • Methamphetamine or cocaine – 25 grams, or 10 grams with three aggravating factors
  • PCP, hallucinogens, or amphetamines – 100 doses
  • Other narcotics – 50 grams

Third-Degree Drug Crimes

Third-degree drug crimes are categorized according to the drug possessed, the quantity, and how the defendant is involved with the drug trade:


Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree

  • Any amount of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or other narcotics
  • PCP, amphetamines, hallucinogens – 10 doses
  • Marijuana – 11 pounds
  • Employing a minor to sell or selling a drug from Schedule I, II, or III to a minor

Possession of Controlled Substances in the Third Degree

  • Marijuana – 22 pounds
  • Heroin – 3 grams
  • Other narcotics – 10 grams
  • Any amount of a Schedule I, II, or III narcotic
  • Hallucinogens – 5 doses if in a park, drug treatment facility, school, or public housing unit

Fourth-Degree Controlled Substance Crimes

For sale crimes, the minimum amounts for charges include:

  • Any amount of a substance from Schedule I, II, or III
  • Selling any amount of a Schedule IV or V drug to a minor
  • Selling any amount of marijuana in a public housing unit, park, drug treatment facility, or school

For fourth-degree possession crimes, the minimum quantity is:

  • Hallucinogens or PCP – 10 doses
  • Any amount of a drug from Schedule I, II, or III with the intent to sell

Fifth-Degree Controlled Substance Crimes

For controlled substance crimes involving sales in the fifth degree, the minimum amount is:

  • Any amount of marijuana
  • Any amount of a drug from Schedule IV

For fifth-degree possession, the minimum amounts include:

  • Any amount of a substance from Schedule I, II, III, or IV
  • The attempt to gain possession of a controlled substance using fraud, a false name, or misrepresentation to a physician


Penalties For Drug Crimes

Minnesota drug crime penalties depend on the degree. Often, defense attorneys can work out a plea agreement to reduce the degree or convince the court to reduce the charges or throw out the case.

First-Degree Drug Crimes

First-degree crimes are the type that land convicts in Stillwater for many years. The maximum sentence is 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. In addition, anyone with previous drug convictions must serve a minimum of four years. Also, large quantities of drugs can trigger a 65-month minimum.

Second-Degree Drug Crimes

Second-degree drug convictions carry up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Previous drug convictions trigger a three-year minimum.

Third-Degree Drug Crimes

Third-degree drug crimes carry up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Fourth-Degree Drug Crimes

Fourth-degree drug crime convicts face up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

Fifth-Degree Drug Crimes

While fifth-degree drug crimes are the least serious, they can still land convicts in Stillwater or St. Cloud for up to five years. In addition, the court can impose a fine of as much as $10,000.

Other Impacts of a Minnesota Drug Conviction

The impacts of a criminal conviction, especially a Minnesota drug conviction, continue after the sentence is completed, affecting the ex-convict’s civil rights and ability to re-enter society productively. Here are some of the consequences of a drug conviction beyond the sentence:

Loss of Firearm Possession Rights

A felony drug conviction in Minnesota bars you from legally owning a firearm for life. In addition, misdemeanor drug convictions can result in the suspension of firearm ownership rights for up to three years.

Loss of Voting Rights

While incarcerated, on probation, or on parole for a drug conviction, you lose the right to vote. You can apply for the reinstatement of voting rights once your sentence is complete. Also, you lose eligibility to serve on a jury.

Deportation for Non-Citizens

Many non-citizens convicted of drug offenses are deported as soon as their sentences are complete. However, they may spend several months in an INS detention facility before being put on a plane. Deportation applies to undocumented aliens, green card holders, or permanent residents. Even non-citizens who have resided in the U.S. since early childhood may be deported after a drug conviction.

Employment Disqualifications

Some employers refuse to hire convicted felons for certain jobs. Also, a drug conviction may make it impossible for you to work in certain fields. While there are jobs available for ex-offenders, you have fewer options, and your job search may take longer.

Loss of Professional Licensure

Many professional licensures have rules requiring cancellation or suspension of the licenses due to a drug conviction. For instance, these restrictions apply to teachers, lawyers, and commercial drivers. Some licensing bodies bar the initial applications of those with drug convictions.

Inability to Qualify for Student Loans

The federal government prohibits those convicted of drug offenses from educational financial aid.

Problems Finding Housing

Some landlords do extensive criminal background checks. While some discrimination protections exist, a serious drug offense can result in landlords rejecting your application. For instance, if you have a conviction for selling drugs, they may fear that you will deal drugs from their property.

You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The long maximum sentences for drug crimes in Minnesota can be intimidating. However, it’s important to remember that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Law enforcement often brings charges with insufficient evidence. For example, they may find drugs in your vehicle and try to build a case against you for drug dealing.

However, they may have insufficient evidence to support an accusation of selling drugs. Also, you may have a defense based on the drugs belonging to someone else.

Many cases also end in plea bargains that substantially reduce the sentence.


Talk to an Attorney About Controlled Substance Laws in Minnesota

If you have been charged with a drug crime, you have rights. Gerald Miller works tirelessly to defend his clients against drug crime accusations. No innocent person should serve a single day in a cell.

Contact Gerald Miller immediately if you need help with a drug crime case.

Related Content: What Happens When You Get Charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance in Minnesota?

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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