Washington takes a liberal view on marijuana. However, the same is not true for cocaine, opioids, ecstasy, methamphetamines, and other drugs known for their recreational use. Police officers and prosecutors in Washington state strictly enforce the law regarding all other controlled substances.
If you are charged with a drug offense in Washington, this is a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (VUCSA). Whether you are in possession of a small amount of cocaine or accused of manufacturing meth, you are going to need to work with a drug lawyer who can guide you through the criminal court process and aggressively fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
Call The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC at (253) 375-8055 to schedule a consultation with a Tacoma VUCSA attorney right away.
Washington’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act
The Uniform Controlled Substances Act is found in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 68.50. This lays out Washington’s illegal drug schedule, recreational and medical marijuana regulations, and the prohibited acts that will result in criminal convictions and penalties.
Washington breaks down illegal drugs into a schedule:
- Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the U.S., and are not safe to use in the treatment of a medical condition under supervision. They include heroin, other opiates, and opium derivatives. Marijuana is also a Schedule I drug, though it is treated differently than other Schedule I substances under Washington law.
- Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse, have a currently accepted medical use in the U.S., possibly with restrictions, and abuse of the substance can lead to addiction. They include any form of opium, morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, oxycodone, fentanyl, cocaine, methadone, and methamphetamine, as well as numerous other stimulants and depressants.
- Schedule III drugs have less of a potential for abuse than Schedule I or II substances, a low to moderate risk of physical dependence, a high risk of psychological dependence, and currently accepted medical uses in the U.S. Schedule III drugs include many stimulants and depressants, like barbiturates, GHB, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse, limited risk of physical or psychological dependence, and currently accepted medical uses in the U.S. These include depressants like barbital, numerous stimulants, and any medication mixed with a narcotic.
- Schedule V substances have the lowest potential for abuse or addiction and have currently accepted medical uses in the U.S. and include medications that contain small amounts of codeine or another narcotic.
The schedule of the drug you are accused of possessing, manufacturing, distributing, or selling matters a great deal. A Schedule I narcotic is treated far differently than a Schedule IV drug. This schedule provides a ranking for how dangerous the drug is considered and influences the charges you face. If you are unsure of the relevant schedule in your case, contact an attorney right away.
Punishment for Illegal Drug Possession
According to RCW 69.50.4013, one of many provisions within the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, you may not possess any controlled substance unless you have a valid prescription.
If you are caught with a controlled substance without a valid prescription or that is never available through a prescription, you will be charged with a Class C felony. Possession may include actual possession, such as having the drug in your pocket, or constructive possession when you had knowledge and control over the drugs, even if they were not within reach.
This offense is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Washington’s Marijuana Law
The prohibited acts in the Uniform Controlled Substances Act do not apply to marijuana if you are over 21 years old. Washington allows for both medicinal and recreational marijuana for adults over 21 years. You can typically have a variety of marijuana products on your person, in your vehicle, and at home without fear of criminal charges. However, there are still restrictions. You cannot imbibe marijuana and drive and you cannot sell it without the appropriate licenses.
However, if you are under 21 years old or you possess more than one ounce of marijuana, yet less than 40 grams, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. You can be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and fined up to $1,000.
Penalties for Drug Manufacturing, Delivery, or Possession With Intent
Under RCW 69.50.401, it is illegal for anyone to manufacture, deliver, or possess with the intent to manufacture or delivery, any controlled substance.
If you allegedly manufactured, delivered, or possessed with the intent to do so less than two kilograms of a Schedule I or II narcotic or flunitrazepam, better known as Rohypnol, then you will be charged with a Class B felony and punished with imprisonment for up to 10 years and fined up to $20,000. If the offense involved more than two kilograms of the drug, you face a decade and prison and fines of up to $100,000 for the first two kilograms and $50 for each additional gram.
If the offense involved less than two kilograms amphetamine or methamphetamine, you will be charged with a Class B felony. This is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to $20,000. If more than two kilograms of amphetamine or meth were involved, then you face imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100,000 for the first two kilograms with another $50 for each additional gram. Of the fines, $3,000 cannot be suspended.
When you are accused of illegally trafficking any Schedule III drug or a Schedule I or II substance other than narcotics or marijuana, then you will be charged with a Class C felony. Also, trafficking a Schedule IV drug, except Rohypnol, or a Schedule V drug is a Class C felony.
Selling to or Involving Minors in Drug Crimes
If prosecutes believe you involved an adolescent under the age of 18 years with the manufacturing, selling, or delivery of a controlled substance, then you will be charged with a Class C felony under RCW 69.50.4015. This includes paying a minor to be involved, soliciting them in any way, or threatening them to participate in the illegal activity.
Based on RCW 69.50.406, if you are over the age of 18 years and are accused of distribution a Schedule I or II narcotic, meth, or Rohypnol to a minor, then you will be charged with a Class A felony instead of a Class B. You will face maximum punishments of twice what you would face for an offense under RCW 69.50.401.
If you distribute any other controlled substance to a minor who is at least three years younger than you, then you will be charged with a Class B felony and face fines and a term of imprisonment twice that described in RCW 69.50.401.
Let a Tacoma VUCSA Attorney Help You
If you violate Washington’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act in any way, you will need an experienced Tacoma VUCSA lawyer to help. Prosecutors often take a hardline stance on drug cases and will want to see you punished to the fullest extent of the law. By working with an attorney, you can not only fight to have your charges dropped or reduced, you can also seek leniency. Depending on your situation, your lawyer may fight for you to receive compassion and treatment for drug addiction instead of incarceration.
To learn the variety of ways in which a defense attorney can help you fight a VUCSA, call The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC at (253) 375-8055 today.