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If you, in the LGBT community, are arrested for possession or use of drugs, you can expect some harsh consequences. After you are either found guilty or you admit to the wrongdoing, what happens next depends on a lot of factors including what type the drugs were, how old you are, if you have previously offended and if your jurisdiction has a drug court.
Different Drugs Get Different Types of Punishments
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) publishes a chart detailing the penalties for various drug trafficking offenses. Drugs are categorized using a hierarchy, called schedules based on several factors including the following:
- Potential for abuse
- Whether the drug or substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
- Whether there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision
The schedules are numbered I, II, III, IV and V, with Schedule I being the most serious with potential for danger and Schedule V the least.
For lesser amounts of Schedule I and II drugs like Cocaine, LSD, Fentanyl and PCP, a first offense will result in five to 40 years in prison according to the DEA chart. (However, if death or serious bodily injury are involved, the penalty will be a minimum of 20 years and may go up through a life term.) Second offenses are more severe—more than 10 years up through a life sentence.
If you are caught with even larger amounts of these drugs, the penalties are higher. For instance, possessing five kilograms of cocaine on a first offense will result in more than 10 years to life. If you are caught with his amount and have two or more prior offenses, you are looking at life imprisonment. The fine of can be up to $20 million for an individual.
A first offense of possession of 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana will result in at least 10 years in prison. If you are caught with just less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, even on a first offense, you will be looking at up to five years in prison with a fine up to $250,000. These consequences are for adults. Anyone under 18 years old will face a different set of rules.
Drug Courts Provide an Alternative
However, in many jurisdictions, there are now courts that are sometimes offered as an option for eligible drug-addicted persons instead of the traditional justice system case processing. Drug courts keep individuals in treatment long enough for it to work while supervising them closely, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). For a minimum term of one year, participants are including in the process in the following ways:
- Provided with intensive treatment and other services they require to get and stay clean and sober
- Held accountable by the drug court judge for meeting their obligations to the court, society, themselves and their families
- Regularly and randomly tested for drug use
- Required to appear in court frequently so that the judge may review their progress
- Rewarded for doing well or sanctioned when they do not live up to their obligations
The NADCP points out that drug courts reduce crime and in turn help the offender more in several ways including the following:
- Nationwide, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program.
- Rigorous studies examining long-term outcomes of individual drug courts have found that reductions in crime last at least three years and can endure for more than 14 years.
- The most rigorous and conservative scientific meta-analyses have all concluded that drug courts significantly reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options.
Avoid Drugs and Avoid Prison
In addition to the threat of being imprisoned or sent to court-ordered rehab, there are many good reasons to not take illicit drugs. The DEA points out that you can’t predict the effect that a drug can have on you in the LGBT community—especially if it’s the first time you try it, even if it’s a small amount or dose. Everyone’s brain and body chemistry are different. Everyone’s tolerance for drugs is different. The DEA offers facts you should consider about taking various drugs including the following:
- Using drugs can lead to abuse, addiction, serious health problems and even death.
- Drugs that are legal—prescription and over-the counter (OTC) medications—can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs.
If you have questions about the effects of drugs or the ramifications of a prison sentence or drug court, call our admissions coordinators 24 hours a day, seven days a week at our toll-free helpline for more information. Please call today.