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Manufacturing a Controlled Substance (2024 Penalites & Statistics)

“Manufacturing a controlled substance” refers to the production, creation, or cultivation of illegal drugs or controlled substances. This can involve a range of activities, from growing marijuana to producing methamphetamine in a lab.
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What is a Controlled Substance?

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) research from 2019, a controlled substance is drug or other substance that is tightly controlled by the government because it may be abused or cause addiction [1].

The control applies to the way the substance is made, used, handled, stored, and distributed," NCI said. Controlled substances include opioids, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and anabolic steroids. Controlled substances with known medical use, such as morphine, Valium, and Ritalin, are available only by prescription from a licensed medical professional. Other controlled substances, such as heroin and LSD, have no known medical use and are illegal in the United States.

What is the Controlled Substances Act?

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) [2], the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) categorizes all substances previously regulated under federal law into five schedules based on their medical applications, potential for abuse, and safety or dependency risks. This classification system was created to consolidate existing federal drug laws, providing a framework for federal law enforcement regarding controlled substances. The CSA serves as a legal framework for the federal government's efforts to combat drug abuse.

When determining the appropriate schedule for a drug or substance, or whether it should be decontrolled or rescheduled, certain factors must be considered, including:

  • The substance's potential for abuse, both actual and relative.
  • Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effects, if known.
  • The current state of scientific knowledge regarding the substance.
  • Its history and patterns of abuse.
  • The extent, duration, and significance of its abuse.
  • Any risks to public health associated with its use.
  • Its potential for psychological or physiological dependence.
  • Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a controlled substance already regulated under the CSA.

What are the Penalties for Manufacturing a Controlled Substance?

According to Justia, the penalties for drug manufacturing are severe, often resulting in felony charges and substantial prison sentences, typically ranging from one to ten years [3]. In addition to imprisonment, individuals convicted of drug manufacturing may face hefty fines, sometimes exceeding $25,000. Under federal law, the cultivation of marijuana plants carries sentences ranging from five years for 50 plants to over 25 years for 1,000 or more plants.

A common defense in drug manufacturing cases is that the defendant held a permit or license authorizing them to possess certain precursor chemicals. This defense is often used by factories and businesses that use industrial chemicals common in drug production, as they may possess permits allowing them to purchase and use these chemicals legally.

Also Read: Steps to Obtaining a Colorado Marijuana Cultivation License

Federal Drug Law Violator Statistics

2018 analysis of 1979 integrated database data from 10 pretrial service districts from the Bureau of Justice Statistics [4] found that 64% of Federal drug law offenders were involved with some level of selling, distributing, or dispensing controlled substances.

An additional 14% of drug offenders were linked to manufacturing, 11% to possession, 6% to importation, and 5% to other violations, including prescription violations. Regarding specific substances, 13% of offenses involved marijuana, 42% narcotics, and 45% other controlled substances.

Compared to offenders in other crime categories, drug law offenders tend to be younger than fraud offenders and older than robbery offenders, the researchers said. They tend to fall between those two groups in terms of education, marital status, income, and prior record.

Once apprehended, the majority of drug offenders were prosecuted, with a conviction rate of 76% and an incarceration rate of 55%. However, most were convicted on lesser charges, received sentences well below the maximum, and served an average of slightly over 3 years in prison.

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