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The difference between federal and state drug laws

On Behalf of | Jan 17, 2021 | Drug Violations |

Drug laws in Florida and the United States prohibit the manufacture, possession and distribution of controlled substances. Marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines are a few examples of illegal substances. Strict enforcement of drug policies is happening at the state as well as the federal level. But there are differences between these systems that are essential to understand.

Controlled substances

The first step in understanding state and federal drug crimes is knowing the meaning of the terminology. A controlled substance is any drug or medication that the government regulates. Law enforcement sorts these substances into “schedules” that determine the severity of both a crime and the punishment when someone commits a violation that involves a controlled substance.

Trafficking and distribution

A person becomes guilty of drug distribution when he or she participates in the illegal sale, provision or delivery of a controlled substance. The charge often becomes elevated to trafficking when the crime includes a large amount of the controlled substance.


Both state and federal laws include criminal charges for people who cultivate or produce a controlled substance. The manufacturing of a controlled substance can involve a natural process, like growing marijuana. A chemical manufacturing process, like the one necessary to create methamphetamines, can also become the source of manufacturing charges.

How state and federal drug charges differ

The majority of drug arrests at the state and local levels are for possession. This fact represents the first difference regarding federal drug charges, which are mostly for trafficking. A second difference is that federal drug charges often result in harsher punishments. It is also important to note that drug charges at the state level can be either misdemeanors or felonies. Federal drug charges will, in most cases, become felonies.

Individuals facing drug violations will need to mount a defense to protect themselves from potential damage. A criminal defense attorney may prove helpful in planning this defense.