Blow, snow, powder, nose candy… Get caught with it, and  ‘Trouble’ is the only code word you’ll need. Cocaine possession carries hefty penalties, and we’ll break them down for you today.

But first, a little history.

Cocaine: A Primer

With a story almost as old as civilization, cocaine has left an indelible mark on the world. Nearly 5,000 years before current day, the Ancient civilizations of the Inca used Coca leaves medicinally. It is hypothesized that they did so because chewing on the leaves of the Coca plant caused their heart rates to increase and their rate of respiration to rise. This effect was beneficial for someone living in the highest elevations of the Andes Mountains. Medical research points to the fact that this increase in their vitals could have potentially countered any detrimental effects of breathing the thinner air of the mountains they called home.

It wasn’t until around 1532 that Spanish Conquistadors began using it to drug native Peruvians. Up until this point, the residents reserved its usage for religious ritual only. What the Conquistadors discovered, was that if they forced the Indian slaves that toiled in their silver mines to use it, they were much easier to control and would also work much harder.

Cocaine, the drug as we know it today, surfaced in 1859. A German Chemist by the name of Albert Niemann was the first to isolate and extract it from the Coca leaves from which it gets its name. However, it wasn’t until the 1880’s that it gained popularity in the medical community. Sigmund Freud was a proponent of its use. It also found it’s way into many ‘snake oil’ remedies peddled to the masses for any ailment you can imagine.

Coca-Cola inventor John Pemberton laced his beverage with it, the stimulating effects of the drink only increased its popularity. By the early 1890’s Coca-Cola was a household name. It wasn’t until 1903 that they removed it from their secret recipe.

Fast Forward To Today

Officials banned the drug in 1922, Then, in the 1970’s Cocaine made a resurgence, made fashionable once again by musicians and artists. Cocaine is one of the most trafficked drugs today. Because of this, the penalties for cocaine possession are severe.

Cocaine Possession: Categories and Penalties

Generally speaking, and with few exceptions, the penalties for possessing cocaine are much heavier than other recreational illegal drugs. Each state is a little different in how they handle charges when it comes to cocaine. Several factors influence the severity of the charges for cocaine possession.

Weight

With cocaine charges and penalties, the first thing authorities typically consider weight. The felony charge you face ties directly to how much your stash weighs. Let’s say, for example, you get caught with a gram of cocaine. Considering this is a tiny amount, about equal to the weight of a sugar packet, the lowest level of felony charges could apply.

From here, felony charges of increasing degree are assigned based on increasing weight. The more you get caught with, the higher degree the felony charge.

Packaging

Another consideration in the severity of charges is packaging. Cocaine usually comes in little baggies. Regardless of size, carry more than one bag, and you face ‘possession with intent to distribute,’ or ‘intent to deliver’ charges.  Authorities will assume that if you have more than what appears to be for personal use, you are likely to be selling or distributing the drug to others.

Purity

The amount of pure cocaine in your stash is also a determining factor in the level of charges assessed. Before distributing cocaine, dealers will often ‘cut’ their supply with another powdered substance. Baking soda is one example. What this does for the dealer, is it allows him to bulk up his supply and turn a higher profit. Authorities assume, and rightly so, that the purer a packet of cocaine is, the closer it is in the ‘supply chain’ to the source.  This assumption could also indicate that the possessor is closer to the original dealer, and because of this, the defendant’s sentencing could be stiffer.

Additionally, the higher the purity of the cocaine, the more likely you are to stand trial at the Federal level, rather than the Local Level. Cases decided at the federal level are more severe, and no one wants Federal Drug Charges on their record.

In Conclusion

When arrested for cocaine possession, many factors determine the level of punishment. Even the least severe penalties can land you in jail for up to five years. And, these sentences range up to 99 years for the most serious of charges. Suffice it to say; you should never get involved with cocaine. However, if you find yourself in this situation be sure you have a good lawyer who understands what yo are facing, and how best to handle your case.