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Former Assistant District Attorney
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney

Can I face federal charges for “decriminalized” or “soft” drugs?

On Behalf of | May 13, 2020 | Firm News

As drug laws quickly change across the United States, you may increasingly hear about “decriminalized” or “soft” drugs when citizens debate various policies. People often place these labels on substances such as marijuana and other synthetic drugs. As a result, heavy charges involving these kinds of drugs can be confusing. Nonetheless, many people end up facing federal charges every year. 

Mississippi is one of many states that has recently proposed changes to existing laws surrounding controlled substances. In the past, federal guidelines have played a significant role in drug charges. Today, there is a gray area that now exists. 

What does “decriminalized” mean? 

Decriminalization refers to the removal of criminal penalties for illegal acts. When it comes to selling or possessing controlled substances in the state of Mississippi, people can face criminal penalties for any substances categorized under Schedules I, II, III, IV or V. 

That said, several statutes of Mississippi’s law make exceptions for penalties when it comes to drugs such as marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids. While these exceptions do not necessarily relieve the accused of criminal charges, they do offer alternative approaches. 

How do federal charges come into play? 

The variance in state and federal laws complicates matters. Judges consider many factors when dealing with cases involving controversial substances. For example, how much of the controlled substance was in your possession? Or, how much were you selling? While having a small amount of illegal drugs can still lead to trouble, having a large amount can sometimes lead to significantly more trouble. 

For example, you may face up to life in prison if the federal government finds you with 1,000 marijuana plants. This is a substantially different outcome than if law enforcement catches you with a joint in your pocket. 

What are my options? 

Federal charges can be scary. If you face serious charges for “decriminalized” or “soft” drugs, you may have options. It is important to know your rights. A detailed analysis and understanding of your case can help you navigate the challenges you face.