Massachusetts, like most states across the country, has been battling a drug use/abuse issue for decades. In addition to a serious opioid crisis with fatal overdoses on the rise, Massachusetts also battles illicit drug problems across the spectrum of ages, genders, and races. Addiction knows no boundaries. 

As a law firm, some of the most common charges we see in Massachusetts are drug charges. Many drug offenses signal an addiction. There are several different classes of drugs. Each class comes with differing ranges of penalties. Similarly, there are several ways that possession of drugs can be charged depending on the number of drugs recovered and the activity that police allege. 

Let’s explore these classifications and the potential consequences of drug charges. 

Marijuana and joint on a checkerboard

Classification of Controlled Substances 

Any drug that requires a prescription from a licensed medical provider, is produced illegally on the streets or is another form of a chemical substance, is considered a “controlled substance” under Massachusetts States Laws. (Chapter 94C Controlled Substance Act

Class A drugs are considered the most dangerous ranging down to Class E which is considered less dangerous for human consumption. 

There are five classifications to these drugs including…

  • Class A includes opioids such as Heroin, GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), Morphine, and Ketamine (otherwise known as “Special K”.)
  • Class B includes drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD, PCP, methamphetamines, and prescription drugs such as Oxycodone. 
  • Class C includes prescription tranquilizers and prescription narcotics such as Clonazepam, Diazepam (Valium), and Hydrocodone (Vicodin). Also included in this classification are hallucinogenic drugs. 
  • Class D includes drugs such as marijuana and phenobarbital. 
  • Class E includes weaker amounts of prescription drugs such as Codeine, Morphine, or other Opiates. 
syringe and drugs on black table

Possession, Sale, & Trafficking Designations

Consequences for each classification are also determined by whether the person is being charged with possessing, selling, or trafficking the substance. 

Possession indicates that you were arrested with the substance on your person. Being charged with the sale of an illegal substance means you were attempting to sell the drugs to another person. Usually, proximity to a school zone and if the person being sold to is a minor will also weigh in the penalty amount. 

Trafficking indicates that your intent was to sell or distribute controlled substances across state or national lines. As a part of these designations, the amount of the controlled substance is also taken into account as to whether it dictates a sale or trafficking charge. 

The State of Massachusetts publishes potential penalties for each classification as well as for possession, sale, or trafficking. 

  • Class A penalties for possession include up to 2 years in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. Sale includes the possibility of 2-10 years and/or a fine of $1,000-$10,000. Trafficking holds the penalty of potentially up to a $100,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison depending upon the amount of the substance discovered. 
  • Class B penalties include 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for possession, 2-10 years in jail and/or a fine of $1,000-$10,000 for the sale of the substance, and up to $500,000 fine, and 20 years in prison depending upon the amount of substance found. 
  • Class C penalties include 1 year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine for possession. 
  • Class D penalty includes up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of $500 and a mandatory 1-year lost license for possession. 
  • Class E penalties include up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of $500 and a mandatory 1-year lost license for possession. 

For a comprehensive list including classifications, designation, and penalties please talk to our team or visit The General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.