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Federal vs. State Drug Laws - How does this work?

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Ian_rd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-31-06 06:15 PM
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Federal vs. State Drug Laws - How does this work?
I'm confused about federal vs. state jurisdiction in drug cases. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 appears to clearly make possession of certain drugs a federal offense. But states also have their own drug laws. So how are drug cases handled? I'm hoping someone on these forums can help me understand this.

Are all cases of drug possession immediately referred to federal authorities (FBI or DEA)?
Or instead are local authorities required to follow federal guidelines in drug cases (sentencing, etc.)?

But if either of the above are true it still wouldn't explain why states have their own drug laws when they will only be superceded by the federal drug laws.

If a person is arrested for possession, are they subject to prosecution from federal AND state authorities?

I'm lost.
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spindrifter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-31-06 06:18 PM
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1. Generally speaking, the local folks prosecute
smaller amounts. The feds ordinarily take the large amounts or deal with people who are higher up on the distribution chain. They also may choose to prosecute where a gun is involved, particularly if the person has criminal history for guns and drugs.
As to sentencing, it goes by which entity is prosecuting. Federal sentences for federal convictions--local for local convictions.
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William769 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-31-06 07:36 PM
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2. State laws can be more stricter than Federal law
But cannot be more lenient. Most drug cases are under State law. unless trafficking from another Country or across State lines, or of course on Federal Property.
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lindisfarne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-31-06 07:45 PM
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3. The recent decision involving CA medical marijuana laws are relevant
The federal court decided the defendant had violated federal laws and thus could be prosecuted under them, although the court acknowledged state laws specifically allowed the defendant's behavior.
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Asgaya Dihi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-08-06 12:20 AM
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4. Depends on what they want to do
Generally small amounts of anything is a State matter. Once you get over a given amount depending on the drug the Feds can step in but they don't have to. Take a pot bust for example. In Texas they charge by the weight for cultivation rather than for the number of plants, cultivation in itself isn't charged. By Federal law I think anything over 20 plants or so becomes a big deal. In theory you could be facing a 6 month Texas penalty for 25 small seedlings that don't amount to any weight or a stiff Federal mandatory minimum for it. Depends on who wants you. The law is pretty arbitrary in a number of areas such as that. Safe school zones are another.
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