What Are Minnesota's Drug Laws?

Recent updates to Minnesota drug laws have reduced sentences, increased quantity thresholds, included stricter mandatory minimum sentences, and expanded eligibility for statutory stays of adjudication. These changes were approved in order to differentiate addicts from dealers and to keep serious offenders off the streets longer while ensuring that fewer addicts are incarcerated.

In the state of Minnesota, it is illegal to sell or possess a controlled substance without a prescription from a licensed physician.

A controlled substance is a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession, or use is regulated by the government. Typically, these are compounds that have a high potential for serious intoxication or abuse.

Minnesota divides controlled substances into five “schedules.” Schedule I consists of the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction and no medical value. Schedules II through V decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse and increase in medical uses.

The severity of penalization depends on the substance, how much is in the offender’s possession, and whether they intend to sell it. Possession is defined as either being on your person or in a place you have control over.

Possession and sale of different controlled substances are sentenced separately because sale is a more severe crime than possession. With the recent changes to Minnesota drug laws, the gap between the sentencing for possession and sale has widened.

Aggravating factors

If you are caught selling a controlled substance and the prosecution proves that there are aggravating factors present, you will be sentenced to jail for a minimum of 86 months and not more than 40 years, a fine up to $1,000,000, or both.

Aggravating factors include:

  1. Possessing a gun at the time of your arrest
  2. Acting on behalf of a gang
  3. Holding kingpin status

First degree controlled substance crime

A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the first degree if on one or more occasions within a 90-day period they unlawfully sell or possess the following:

Marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols

  1. Possess 50+ kilograms or 500+ marijuana plants
  2. Sell 100+ kilograms

Amphetamines, Phencyclidines or Hallucinogens

  1. Possess 500+ grams or 500+ doses
  2. Sell 50+ grams or 200+ doses

Cocaine or Methamphetamines

  1. Possess 50+ grams
  2. Possess 25+ grams and:
    • They possess or use a firearm, whether by brandishing, displaying, threatening with, or otherwise employing
    • The offense involves two aggravating factors
  3. Sell 17+ grams
  4. Sell 10+ grams and:
    • They possess or use a firearm, whether by brandishing, displaying, threatening with, or otherwise employing
    • The offense involves two aggravating factors

Heroin

  1. Possess 25+ grams
  2. Sell 10+ grams

"Other" narcotics

  1. Possess 500+ grams
  2. Sell 50+ grams

Penalties for a controlled substance crime in the first degree

A person convicted of a first degree controlled substance charge is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 30 years, a fine up to $1,000,000, or both.

If the offender has a prior drug conviction, they will be sentenced to imprisonment for at least four years and no more than 40 years, a fine up to $1,000,000, or both.

If the offender sold or possessed 100+ grams or 500+ doses of a controlled substance, they will be sentenced to imprisonment for at least 65 months and no more than 40 years, a fine up to $1,000,000, or both.

Methamphetamine manufacture crime. A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the first degree if they manufacture any amount of methamphetamine.

First degree aggravated controlled substance. A person is guilty of aggravated controlled substance in the first degree if they sell or possess 100+ grams or 500+ dosage units of the controlled substance at issue and:

  1. They possess or use a firearm, whether by brandishing, displaying, threatening with, or otherwise employing
  2. The offense involves two aggravating factors

Second degree controlled substance crime

A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the second degree if on one or more occasions within a 90-day period they unlawfully sell or possess the following:

Marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols

  1. Possess 25+ kilograms or 100+ marijuana plants
  2. Sell 10+ kilograms
  3. Sell 5+ kilograms in a school zone, a park zone, a public housing zone, or a drug treatment facility

Amphetamines, Phencyclidines or Hallucinogens

  1. Possess 50+ grams or 100+ doses
  2. Sells 10+ grams or 50+ doses
  3. Sell any amount in a school zone, a park zone, a public housing zone, or a drug treatment facility

Cocaine or Methamphetamines

  1. Sell 3+ grams and:
    • They possess or use a firearm, whether by brandishing, displaying, threatening with, or otherwise employing
    • The offense involves three aggravating factors
  2. Sell any amount in a school zone, a park zone, a public housing zone, or a drug treatment facility
  3. Possess 25+ grams
  4. Possess 10+ grams and:
    • They possess or use a firearm, whether by brandishing, displaying, threatening with, or otherwise employing
    • The offense involves three aggravating factor

Heroin

  1. Sell 3+ grams
  2. Possess 6+ grams

“Other” narcotics

  1. Possess 50+ grams
  2. Sells 10+ grams

A person is also guilty of a controlled substance crime in the second degree if they sell any amount of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug either to a person under 18 or in a school zone, park, public housing zone, or drug treatment facility.

Penalties for a controlled substance crime in the second degree

A person convicted may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 25 years, a fine up to $500,000, or both.

If the offender has a prior drug conviction, they may be sentenced to imprisonment for three to 40 years, a fine up to $500,000, or both.

Third degree controlled substance crime

A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the third degree if on one or more occasions within a 90-day period they unlawfully sell or possess the following:

Marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols

  1. Possess 10+ kilograms
  2. Sell 5+ kilograms

Amphetamines, Phencyclidines or Hallucinogens

  1. Possess 5 or more doses
  2. Sell 10+ doses

Cocaine or Methamphetamines

  1. Possess 3 grams or more
  2. Possess any amount in a school zone, a park zone, a public housing zone, or a drug treatment facility
  3. Sell any amount of cocaine or heroin

Heroin

  1. Possess 3+ grams

Schedule I, II, or III drug (except Schedule I or II narcotic drug)

  1. Sell any amount to a person under the age of 18
  2. Conspire with or employ a person under the age of 18 to sell

Schedule I or II narcotic drug

  1. Possess 50+ doses
  2. Possess 5+ doses units of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine, or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine in a school zone, a park zone, a public housing zone, or a drug treatment facility
  3. Sell 5+ doses of a Schedule I or II narcotic drug in a school zone, park zone, public housing zone, or drug treatment center

“Other” narcotics

  1. Possess 10+ grams
  2. Sell any amount

Penalties for a controlled substance crime in the third degree

A person convicted of a first degree controlled substance charge may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 20 years, a fine up to $250,000, or both.

Fourth degree controlled substance crime

A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the fourth degree if they unlawfully sell or possess the following:

Marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols

  1. Sells any amount in a school zone, park zone, public housing zone, or drug treatment facility

Hallucinogen

  1. Possess 10+ doses

Schedule I, II, or III drug (except marijuana)

  1. Possess any amount with intent to sell
  2. Sell any amount

Schedule IV or V drug

  1. Sell any amount to a person under 18
  2. Conspire with or employ a person under the age of 18 to sell

Penalties for a controlled substance crime in the fourth degree

A person convicted of a fourth degree controlled substance charge may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 15 years, a fine up to $100,000, or both.

Fifth degree controlled substance crime

A person is guilty of controlled substance crime in the fifth degree if they unlawfully sell or possess the following:

Marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols

  1. Possess 42.5+ grams
  2. Sell any amount

Schedule I, II, or III drug

  1. Possess any amount

Schedule IV drug

  1. Possess any amount
  2. Sell any amount

The offender may also be charged if they procure, attempt to procure, possess, or have control over a controlled substance by any of the following means:

  1. Fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge
  2. Using a false name or giving false credit
  3. Falsely assuming the title of, or falsely representing an authorized person for the purpose of obtaining a controlled substance

Penalties for a controlled substance crime in the fifth degree

If the offender has not been previously convicted of a violation, they will be found guilty of a gross misdemeanor, (up to one year in jail and/or $3,000) if they:

  1. Possess less than 0.25 grams or one dosage unit of a controlled substance
  2. Possess less than 0.05 grams of heroin

A person convicted of a fifth degree controlled substance charge without the above exceptions may be convicted of a felony and sentenced to up to 5 years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both.

If you’ve been charged with a controlled substance crime, contact the team at Bruno Law for a consultation. An experienced attorney will rigorously investigate your case and work to deliver you the best outcome.

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