Laws Governing Drug Use

A. Federal Law

The Federal Government prohibits the manufacture, distribution, dispensation and possession of controlled substances unless specifically permitted by statute.

The government categorizes controlled substances according to Schedules I through V. Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, with no accepted medical use.

Schedule I drugs include, but are not limited to, heroin, marijuana, hashish, LSD and other hallucinogens.

Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, but some medical use, and include opium, morphine, codeine, barbiturates, cocaine and its derivatives, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP) and other narcotics.

Schedule III, Schedule IV and Schedule V drugs have some potential for abuse, but less than Schedule I and II drugs, with Schedule III drugs having the most potential for abuse and Schedule V the least. Schedule III, IV and V drugs include chloral hydrate (IV), certain barbiturates (III and IV), benzodiazines (IV), glutethimide (III), other depressants and narcotics (III and IV), amphetamines (III) and other stimulants (III and IV).

A complete listing of controlled substances and their classifications is contained in Title 21 of the United States Code at Section 812. Penalties for the unauthorized possession, manufacture, sale, distribution or delivery of drugs varies according to the type and quality of drug, the existence of prior offenses and whether death or serious injury results from the drug involved.

The federal penalty for the manufacture, sale or distribution of small amounts of Schedule I and II drugs, for the first offense, is from five to 40 years imprisonment and/or not more than a two million dollar fine for an individual (where death or serious injury occurs, not less than 20 years imprisonment and not more than life imprisonment); for a second offense, not less than 10 years imprisonment and not more than life and/or a fine of not less than four million dollars for an individual (where death or serious injury occurs, not less than life imprisonment).

Penalties are doubled in many cases for the manufacture, sale or distribution of larger amounts of Schedule I and II drugs. The federal penalty for the manufacture, distribution or sale of Schedule III, IV and V drugs of any quantity is: Schedule III Drug: not more than five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000.00 fine for a first offense; penalty is doubled for a second offense. Schedule IV Drug: not more than three years imprisonment and/or a $250,000.00 fine for a first offense; penalty is doubled for a second offense. Schedule V Drug: not more than one year imprisonment and/or a $100,000.00 fine; penalty is doubled for a second offense.

Federal law provides separate penalties for the manufacture, sale or distribution of marijuana, hashish, or their derivatives. Penalties vary according to the quantity involved, the existence of a prior offense, and whether death or serious injury results. For a first offense involving small amounts (less than 50 kilograms of marijuana; less than 10 kilograms of hashish), the penalty includes not more than five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000.00 fine for an individual. Penalties are doubled for second offenses. For larger quantities (between 50-100 kilograms marijuana; between 10-100 kilograms hashish), the penalty includes not more than 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of one million dollars. Penalties are increased for second offenses. Where death or serious injury results, penalties are increased to include not less than 20 years imprisonment and not more than life for a first-time offender; not less than life for a second-time offender.

In addition to the manufacture, distribution or sale of controlled substances, federal law prohibits unauthorized possession of controlled substances. Penalties for simple possession include up to one year imprisonment and/or at least a $1,000.00 fine (but less than $10,000.00) for a first offense; up to two years imprisonment and/or at least a $2,500.00 fine (but less than $250,000.00) for a second offense; up to three years imprisonment and/or at least a $5,000.00 fine (but less than $250,000.00) for subsequent offenses. Special sentencing provisions apply to the possession of crack cocaine. Special federal penalties apply to the sale or distribution of controlled substances to persons under age 21 or within 1,000 feet of school, college or university property.

B. State Law

The laws of Wisconsin prohibit drug possession and delivery through the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Wis. Stat. 161, and mandate stiff penalties that include up to 15 years of prison and fines up to $500,000. A person with a first-time conviction of possession of a controlled substance can be sentenced up to one year of prison and fined up to $5,000, Wis. Stat. 161.41 (2r) (b). The penalties vary according to the amount of drug confiscated, the type of drug found, the number of previous offenses by the individual and whether the individual intended to manufacture the drug, sell the drug or use the drug. (See Wis. Stat. 161.41.) In addition to the stringent penalties for possession or delivery, the sentences can be doubled when exacerbating factors are present, such as when a person distributes a controlled substance to a minor, Wis. Stat. 161.46 (1).

Substantial restrictions against alcohol abuse also exist in Wisconsin. It is against the law to sell alcohol to anyone who has not reached the legal drinking age of 21, and there is a concurrent duty on the part of an adult to prevent the illegal consumption of alcohol on his/her premises, Wis. Stat.125.07 (1) (a) (1). Violation of this statute can result in a $500 dollar fine. It is against the law for an underage person to attempt to buy an alcoholic beverage, falsely represent his/her age, or enter a licensed premise. Violators of this law can be fined $500, ordered to participate in a supervised work program, and have their driver’s license suspended, Wis. Stat. 125.07(4) (3). Harsher penalties exist for the retailers of alcoholic beverages who violate it, including up to 90 days in jail and revocation of their retail liquor permit.