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Possession of Controlled Substances in Florida (Drugs)

March 18, 2021

As one of the most common crimes in Florida, possession of a controlled substance is a crime that must be understood clearly. If you, a loved one, or a friend were charged with this crime, this post might be what you need to understand the situation.

Controlled Substance Schedules

Knowing the Schedules for controlled drugs is the first thing to know about possession of illegal substances. This refers to the categorical list of different types of narcotics and their medical use or likelihood of being used for addiction or leisure purposes.

  • Schedule I: Methaqualone, LSD, Heroin, Marijuana

  • Schedule II: Cocaine, PCP, Morphine

  • Schedule III: Some Barbiturates, Codeine, Anabolic Steroids, Hydrocodone

  • Schedule VI: Most Benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium)

  • Schedule V: OTC cough medicines with codeine

Substances listed in Schedules V and II have some accepted medicinal usage. However, the rest of the drug types are governed by federal and state laws.

Drugs and Paraphernalia

Many drug-related cases in the US involve the substances:

  • Methadone

  • Heroin

  • LSD

  • Cannabis

  • Fentanyl and its derivatives

  • Methamphetamines

Aside from the substances themselves, drug paraphernalia is also considered contraband; hence, subject to forfeiture. Specifically, these are the common items collected alongside illegal substances during arrests:

  • Cocaine spoons

  • Kits

  • Testing equipment to assess efficacy or strength of the substances

  • Packages

  • Separation gins

  • Cannabis cigarettes

  • Hypodermic needles or syringes

State vs. Federal Charges

A person caught with illegal drugs and paraphernalia could be charged with either state or federal cases.

State courts handle the majority of the low-level drug possession charges, such as those for personal consumption or recreation purposes. Plus, the sanctions and provisions of a state case vary from one state to another.

Meanwhile, a federal charge usually includes possession of controlled substances with the intention to distribute, manufacture, or smuggle. These cases are considered more serious and threatening to the community or country.

Penalties, Fines, and Jail Time

Penalties, jail time, and fines also differ based on whether the charge is done on the federal or state court. The crime could also escalate from state-level to federal depending on the number of drugs discovered in possession and whether it’s meant for personal use or mass distribution.

Jail Time

The minimum jail time for possession of controlled substances is 1 to 2 years. And the maximum prison time could be as long as 10 years or more.

Penalties and Fines

The minimum fine is $1,000, and the maximum penalty could be up to $50,000.

Jail time and fines could increase depending on whether the accused person is a repeat offender or not.


Being charged with possession of controlled drugs could cost you, a loved one, or a friend thousands of dollars and several years in prison. But if you’re wrongly accused or feel that you can lower your sanctions, it’s best to find a reliable attorney to fight for you in court. If you happen to live in Florida, try the legal services of Attorney Tom McGuire and his team at Panhandle Defense Firm.