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  • Penalty for Possession of a Controlled Substance in New Mexico

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    Penalty for Possession of a Controlled Substance in New Mexico

    New Mexico law remains tough on drug possession. There is a chance you could go to jail and pay a fine and suffer additional consequences for possessing controlled substances in New Mexico. That’s why it is important to understand the penalty for possession of a controlled substance in New Mexico. You’ll also need a tough lawyer to fight your case. Our lawyers with the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have nearly 30 years of experience protecting the rights of people charged with drug possession crimes. Contact our office today to learn how we can help you.

    Penalties for Illegal CDS Possession

    The penalty for illegal possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) depends on a few factors. Those factors include the nature of the substance, the quantity of the substance, and the location where you possessed the drugs. The penalty you ultimately could receive also depends on your personal history, including whether you have prior drug convictions.

    According to the drug laws, the penalty for possession of a controlled substance in New Mexico could be a petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor, fourth-degree felony, or third-degree felony. 

    Possession of Synthetic Cannabinoid

    Possession of one ounce or less of a synthetic cannabinoid is a petty misdemeanor for the first offense. The penalty for that crime is a maximum of 15 days in jail and a fine between $50 and $100 for a first offense. 

    A second offense becomes a misdemeanor. The possible punishment is a definite term in jail of no more than one year and a fine between $100 and $1,000. 

    Possession of eight ounces or more increases the penalties. This offense is a misdemeanor, with up to one year in jail and a fine between $100 and $1,000. Possessing more than eight ounces of synthetic cannabinoids becomes a fourth-degree felony. A person convicted of a fourth-degree felony faces a basic sentence of 18 months in prison.

    Other Possession Penalties

    Possession of drugs listed in New Mexico’s drug schedules I, II, III, IV, or an analog of those drugs is generally a misdemeanor. These charges have a basic sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, the possession of certain substances like phencyclidine, methamphetamine, flunitrazepam, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), gamma-butyrolactone, 1-4 butane diol, and narcotic drugs in Schedules I and II is a fourth-degree felony. Those drug possession crimes are punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

    Enhanced Penalty for Drug Possession in a School Zone

    Possessing drugs in a posted drug-free school zone increases the possible penalties. However, the enhanced penalties do not apply to the possession of narcotics in a private residence near a school zone or in a car while passing through the school zone. 

    Drug-free school zone penalties increase one level of severity. For instance, possessing one ounce of synthetic cannabinoids or less is a misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent offense is a fourth-degree felony. By comparison, the penalty for possession of a synthetic cannabinoid between one and eight ounces in a drug-free zone is a fourth-degree felony. Finally, possessing more than eight ounces of a synthetic cannabinoid is a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies in New Mexico have a basic sentence of three years in prison.

    The penalty for possessing drugs from Schedules I, II, III, or IV in a school zone is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. But, possession of phencyclidine or a narcotic drug from Schedules I or II in a school zone is a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to three years in prison.

    How Does New Mexico Classify CDS?

    As referenced above, the federal government and all states list drugs in schedules. Drug schedules range from I to V. Included are the drugs themselves and chemicals related to or derived from the drugs, like esters, ethers, and salts. 

    Schedule I

    Schedule I contains drugs that are highly addictive, are susceptible to abuse, and have no accepted medical use in the U.S. or are unsafe even when administered under medical supervision. Examples of drugs in Schedule I are:

    • Heroin,
    • Mescaline,
    • LSD,
    • Synthetic cannabinoids,
    • Psilocybin, and
    • Peyote, unless used in bona fide religious services.

    Schedule I lists many more narcotics that are chemical compounds.

    Schedule II

    Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, which could lead to severe psychiatric or physical dependence. Still, the substance has a currently accepted medical use in the U.S. with limitations. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are as follows:

    • Opium poppy and poppy straw,
    • Coca leaves,
    • Fentanyl,
    • Methadone,
    • Oxycodone, and
    • Methamphetamines.

    Methadone is lawful to possess if obtained from a licensed medical practitioner, and the person strictly adheres to the conditions for legal possession of the drug.

    Schedule III

    Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse, have a currently accepted medical use in the U.S., and have a moderate to low potential for physical abuse or a high potential for psychological abuse. 

    Examples of Schedule III substances include:

    • Phencyclidine,
    • Low doses of codeine,
    • Low doses of opium, and
    • Less than 50 mg of morphine per 100 ml or 100 g of non-narcotic agent in recognized therapeutic amounts.

    Schedule III drugs also contain several additional medications.

    Schedule IV

    Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse and limited physical or psychological dependence potential. Additionally, the drugs listed in Schedule IV are currently accepted treatments in the U.S.

    Common Schedule IV drugs include:

    • Phenobarbital,
    • Barbital and
    • Methylphenobarbital.

    These drugs may reduce anxiety and also can help control seizures.

    Schedule V

    Finally, Schedule V substances may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence and have a currently accepted medical use in the U.S. 

    Schedule V drugs have trace amounts of codeine and other pain-relieving medicines. Pseudoephedrine also falls under Schedule V. Many over-the-counter medications contain pseudoephedrine which you can purchase from a pharmacy if you produce a valid driver’s license and buy no more than 9 grams within 30 days. 

    New Mexico Criminal Law Offices Can Help 

    We understand that each case is unique and deserves commitment and attention to detail. We will thoroughly explore all of your options and defenses. Throughout our nearly 30-year history, we have cultivated an excellent reputation in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.