Maine Drug Laws and Federal Drug Laws – Are They Different?

Maine Drug Lawyer John S. Webb Federal Drug Lawyer

The United States government regulates federal drug laws through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 USC. 811). Going back to the President Richard Nixon days, federal law does not acknowledge the difference between cannabis use for medical purposes and recreational use of marijuana. However, due to many states passing state marijuana laws decriminalizing possession of tiny amounts of marijuana, or medical marijuana, these federal marijuana laws are generally applied only against persons who possess or distribute larger quantities of cannabis (pound of marijuana or more) including cultivating marijuana plants. Maine has yet to legalize marijuana.

So, state drug laws often conflict with federal laws (federal laws vs state laws), and Maine drug laws are no exception. Federal drug laws focus on regulating the importation, possession, manufacturing, distributing, marketing and sale of illegal drugs. Legal drugs that are regulated can become illegal when they are not possessed or bottled in accordance with Maine laws.

Federal drug laws also prohibit psychoactive drugs that alter brain function or are severely physically addictive. Some examples of these medications are oxycodone, hydrocodone, zolpidem, benzodiazepines, and anti-psychotic medications. Possession of these controlled substances can lead to long prison terms upon conviction.

What Are the Five Types of Controlled Substances in Maine?

The drug classifications used in addiction facilities, such as a treatment center or rehabilitation hospital (rehab and detox), are separated out by federal law. Most addiction treatments address patients addicted to one or more of these five classes of dangerous drugs, which are all regulated by the Federal CSA (Controlled Substances Act Schedule I, Schedule II, etc..):

Narcotics, e.g., morphine or codeine

Depressants, like alcohol, sleeping pills and some inhalants.

Stimulants, like Adderall and Ritalin.

Hallucinogens, e.g., LSD, peyote, mushrooms, ketamine, PCP, and dextromethorphan

Anabolic steroids, anabolic–androgenic substances commonly called steroids, like prednisone, testosterone, nandrolone, and dexamethasone.

Examples of illegal drugs that are unilaterally banned for all purposes include (but are not limited to) cocaine, crack cocaine, PCP and methamphetamines. These are called contraband drugs, and penalties for possession drug offenses, or sale and distribution, are extremely harsh including a lengthy prison sentence.

The penalties for violating federal drug laws vary depending on the drug and the intent of the person in possession. Unlawful possession of drugs is covered in 17-AMRSA Section 1107-A. Penalties under drug laws in Maine are much stiffer for persons arrested who are attempting to distribute the drugs than for persons found to be in possession of the drugs for personal use.

The type and amount of the drug also determines the length of penalties imposed at sentencing, including number of years in prison, with narcotics such as crack requiring much longer jail terms in Maine than federal drug possession of marijuana. Plus, trafficking drugs (or intent to distribute) is penalized very harshly, under 17-A M.R.S.A. 1105-A. The type of drug, weight of the drugs, and whether a firearm is also present are factors that determine prison time.

Maine Federal Drug Charge Law Firm

Federal vs State Drug Laws in Maine

A good example of this is Maine’s having made possession of insignificant amounts of marijuana a civil (non-jail) offense, though federal law technically still makes it a crime. The federal authorities do not bother to take jurisdiction over such cases for a variety of reasons, and common sense is not one of the reasons. Lack of federal money and resources to deal with millions of new federal drug possession and federal drug trafficking cases a month is the main reason.

In Maine, it is legal to prescribe marijuana and have a limited amount of cannabis in a person’s possession for medicinal purposes only. Medicinal marijuana is still unlawful under federal law (marijuana laws federal), although the federal government does not typically prosecute these drug crime cases for the reasons stated in the forgoing paragraph.

When state and federal drug laws conflict, federal laws supersede state laws if the federal government chooses to prosecute the violation. For example, the federal government will sometimes intervene via the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to claim jurisdiction over what amounts to misdemeanor drug possession vs. felony drugs charges, simply because they know that person, and with whom they have a prior criminal history.

Call Our Drug Lawyers in Saco and Portland Maine

If you are facing criminal charges for a violation of drugs laws in southern Maine, Webb Law Firm is here to help you. John Webb has over a quarter century of legal experience in the Pine Tree State. Call now for initial FREE legal advice. 207-283-6400. With a FREE legal consultation, what do you have to lose?

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