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Illegal drugs and related penalties in Massachusetts

Illegal Drug Classes and Related Penalties in Massachusetts

Massachusetts law defines substances that are illegal to use under certain circumstances, as well as the penalties resulting from a conviction.

Not all drug charges in Massachusetts are the same. Although the federal government has its own classifications for illicit drug use, the state legislature has placed drugs into five separate classes, each with its own consequences under the law. It is important for anyone who has been charged with a drug offense to understand the differences in each class as well as the related penalties.

Massachusetts Drug Classes and Penalties

Gavel and drugs - Massachusetts drug classifications

Under Massachusetts law, there are drug classes that determine the type of drug and the penalties for possessing, manufacturing or distributing them. Class A and B include opioids and opium derivatives, Class C include some narcotics, Class D includes marijuana and Class E include narcotics that contain additional substances.

Class A and B

Many opioids and opium derivatives are Class A drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids typically come in the form of medication used to treat pain, such as Codeine, Percocet and Vicodin. Hallucinogens such as flunitrazepam or ketamine are also Class A drugs. The NIDA states that these are often known as club drugs because they are popular at parties. Roofies, Ecstasy and Vitamin K are more commonly known names of these substances.

Class B drugs include some opiates, stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamines, depressants such as barbiturates and some hallucinogens such as LSD.

Manufacturing, possessing, distributing or dispensing Class A or B drugs could result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years, or up to two-and-a-half years in jail or house of correction, and/or a fine of $1,000 to $10,000.

Class C

Class C drugs include some narcotics, as well as depressants and sedatives. Many of these are prescription medications that doctors recommend for treatment of insomnia and mental health issues. Common names of these include the following:

A prison term of up to five years or two-and-a-half years in jail and/or a fine of between $500 and $5,000 may result from a conviction.

Class D

Marijuana, barbital, ethchlorvynol and meprobamate are examples of Class D drugs. These are all available by prescription, but anyone who manufactures, cultivates, dispenses or distributes them illegally may spend up to two years in jail and/or pay a fine of between $500 and $5,000.

What is a Class E Drug?

Narcotics that contain limited amounts of such substances as codeine, diphenoxylate or opium are listed as Class E drugs. The possession, distribution, dispensation or manufacture of these substances may result in a fine of between $250 and $2,500 and/or a jail term of up to nine months.

This is not an exhaustive list of substances that Massachusetts law considers illicit drugs with corresponding penalties upon conviction. Anyone who is arrested on a drug charge may benefit from legal advice and representation of a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who is familiar with all of the state's laws. Call (617) 300-0212 for more information.

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