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  • What Is the Penalty for Drug Trafficking under New Mexico’s Latest Marijuana Laws?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    marijuana and jointNew Mexico is one of the few states to allow marijuana use for medical purposes, but this is under highly specific situations.

    The law prohibits the use of marijuana recreationally, and the distribution, sale, and trafficking of the illegal substance could result in severe penalties and fines.

    If you have been arrested for possession or you are being accused of trafficking marijuana in the state, you are facing some of the harshest laws in the country. New Mexico does not take drug trafficking lightly, even with a substance approved for medical use. Therefore, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney if you have been arrested for trafficking marijuana – and never assume it is a “minor” offense.

    The Special Laws Regarding Drug Trafficking in Albuquerque and the Rest of the State

    Drug trafficking may not fall under New Mexico jurisdiction. While you could be tried in a courtroom here in the state, it still may fall under a federal crime. Trafficking typically involves moving an illegal substance across state lines – whether in or out of New Mexico. Therefore, if you were caught transporting marijuana into the state or out of the state, you are more likely to face federal charges than state ones.

    More so, you could face criminal charges on both fronts – making the potential penalties even more serious.

    The penalties depend on the amount you carry at the time of your arrest. Naturally, the smaller the amount, the fewer years imprisonment and lower fines. However, do not let that fool you. Even a small amount results in severe penalties, because trafficking is a crime that the state and federal governments are working tirelessly to stop – and they do not mind making examples out of everyday citizens.

    Marijuana Trafficking with Fewer than 50 kg, 1 to 49 Plants

    A small amount of marijuana mixture or plants is still a serious offense. Under federal law, you may serve up to five years imprisonment for taking even one marijuana plant across state lines. Your fine cannot exceed $250,000 as an individual. If you are a business offering medical marijuana and you illegally transport it across state lines, your fine cannot exceed $1 million.

    Note that this is only for a first offense.

    If you are arrested and convicted of a second offense, you then can face up to ten years imprisonment and fines of $500,000 as individuals and $2 million if non-individual status apply.

    Marijuana Trafficking with 50-99 kg or 50 to 99 Plants

    You will notice that the penalties increase significantly the higher the amount of marijuana.

    For a first offense in the medium category, you face up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine that cannot exceed $1 million. However, second offenses will see no more than 30 years imprisonment and a fine that cannot exceed $2 million. If death or serious injury occurs in this category, then you may have a life sentence imposed for a second offense.

    Marijuana Trafficking with 100-999 kg or 100 to 999 Plants

    In the large amount category, you now reach mandatory minimums. This means that you could not leave prison for a specified number of years, and these mandatory minimums only grow harsher with each offense and amount obtained.

    For the first offense with a large amount, you receive no less than five years but no more than 40 years. When death or injury occurs, you receive no less than 20 years. Your fine cannot exceed more than $5 million as a first-time offender.

    If you are a second-time offender, however, the penalty now enhances to no less than 20 years to life. If death or serious injury occurs, you will serve a mandatory life sentence. Your fine cannot exceed $8 million.

    Marijuana Trafficking with 1,000 kg or 1,000 or More Plants

    In this category, you have been arrested with a substantial amount and defending yourself against trafficking is nearly impossible. The penalty for a first-time offender requires a mandatory minimum of 10 years to no more than life. However, if death or serious injury occurs, you receive no less than 20 years and no more than life. Your fine cannot exceed $10 million.

    For second-time offenders, the penalty is no less than 20 years to life and mandatory life sentence for death or serious injury. Your fine cannot exceed $20 million.

    What about State Penalties?

    You know the consequences federally, but what about at the state level?

    Drug trafficking at the state level also depends on the amount of substance you carry at the time of your arrest. In most cases, you will face a second-degree felony, which carries up to nine years of imprisonment for a first-time offender.

    If you are a second time offender, you can serve up to 18 years imprisonment.

    Furthermore, if you are accused of trafficking into protected areas such as schools, daycare centers, or parks, you are subjected to enhanced penalties under the state.

    You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney, Immediately

    Now is not the time to represent yourself. You may be facing federal and state charges for a single criminal act. Drug trafficking crimes are intimidating, and you are working against public policy and prosecutors with political agendas.

    Your freedom, reputation, and financial health are at risk. You are facing years (if not life) in prison, and you need an attorney who can represent your rights and find the best possible outcome in these cases.

    A good defense team looks for a unique strategy based on the information in your case. The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can represent you against state or federal drug trafficking charges, and we know the typical tactics used against defendants in these cases.

    Our team will aggressively seek the best possible outcome in your case, and we work hard to protect each clients’ rights.

    To explore your defense options, call us immediately at 505-200-2982 or schedule your consultation online by completing the contact form.