In the US, cocaine is Schedule II according to the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. It shares this classification with methamphetamine, morphine and methadone. Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse but may be administered by a physician for certain purposes. Believe it or not, cannabis is rated in the higher Schedule I category in the U.S.
Penalties for Possession of Coke in the United States
Possession of more than 500 grams of cocaine are as follows:
- Imprisonment for five to 40 years.
- Where a death or serious injury can be traced to the cocaine, the penalties increase to a prison sentence of 20 years to life and/or a fine of up to $2 million for an individual defendant and up to $5 million where the defendant is not an individual.
- When the conviction is handed down where the defendant has a prior conviction for a felony drug offense that has not been completed, he or she will be sent to prison for 10 years to life.
- If death or serious injury resulted from the cocaine use and the defendant has a prior conviction, he or she will be sent to prison for life and/or be required to pay a fine of up to $4 million for an individual and up to $10 million if the defendant is other than an individual.
Penalties for possession of more than 5 kg of cocaine or a substance containing coca leaves are severe.
- Minimum of 10 years to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $4 million for an individual defendant; fine of up to $10 million if the defendant is not an individual.
- In a case where death or serious bodily injury resulted from the drug use, the prison sentence doubles to 20 years to life.
- If the accused is convicted before the penalty for a previous felony drug offense has been completely finished, he or she may be sentenced to prison for 20 years to life.
- In the case of a subsequent drug offense where death or serious injury resulted from the drugs, a fine of up to $8 million for an individual defendant and up to $20 million where the defendant is not an individual may also be imposed.
Civil Penalties for Possessing Small Amounts of Coke
Along with the criminal penalties listed above, an individual who is found in possession of a small amount of cocaine may be subject to civil penalties. A fine of up to $10,000 per violation may be imposed. In deciding the level of the fine, the court may consider the individual's income and assets.
Cocaine Legal Status in the UK
In the UK, cocaine is a Class A substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Other Class A substances include ecstasy, heroin, LSD and crystal meth. Drugs in this class are strictly controlled and are not authorized for any medical purpose. They cannot be possessed, supplied or used for any purpose unless a special Home Office License has been obtained, and these are usually issued allowing the substance to be used for research.
- The penalties for possession of cocaine are an unlimited fine and up to seven years in jail.
- A conviction for trafficking or producing coke carries an unlimited fine and/or life in prison.
The way that police forces in the UK deal with drug offenders varies by region. In some cases, a person caught with a small amount of the drug will be cautioned and not arrested. Often incarceration for use can be avoided by checking-in to a court approved cocaine rehab program. When a drug case does get to court, some jurisdictions are more likely to impose a substantial fine or send the offender to prison than others.
Legal Status of Coke in Canada
The legal status of cocaine is dealt with under the provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Cocaine is a Schedule I drug, along with opium, morphine and codeine.
Under the Act, possession of cocaine can be treated as a summary or an indictable offense:
- If the crime is treated as a summary offense, a first conviction carries a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.
- A subsequent summary conviction means the penalties are doubled: a fine of up to $2,000 and up to a year in jail, or both.
- In a case where the charge is treated as an indictable offense, the offender may be sent to prison for up to seven years.
- Trafficking cocaine is considered an indictable offense and is punishable by a sentence of life in prison.
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