Possession of drugs with the intention of distributing or selling them is illegal under a large number of state and federal laws. The potential penalties will vary according to the type and quantity of drug involved and the circumstances of the case.
What Does Possession with Intent to Distribute Mean?
It is illegal to possess a controlled substance with the intention to sell or distribute the drugs. State laws largely follow the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which regulates the distribution and dispensing of controlled substances. In some states, the term “possession with intent to distribute” applies strictly to marijuana. In other states, the term is used in regard to all controlled substances or to those controlled substances in particular categories. A conviction will often result in a jail or prison sentence, in addition to fines and other penalties.
Possession v. Possession with Intent to Distribute:
There is a significant difference between a conviction for simple possession and possession with intent to distribute drugs. In those states (14) where marijuana has been decriminalized, if the possessor has an amount that does not exceed the legal limit and is not engaged in any activities involving distribution, there is (generally) no legal basis for a charge of any kind because the individual has not violated any laws. If the individual has been accused of possession with intent to distribute and evidence supports the allegation of distribution, s/he may face significant penalties, including incarceration and fines.
In many jurisdictions a person can be charged with and convicted of possession with intent to distribute simply by possessing and/or transporting a significant quantity of drugs. In order to prove possession with intent to distribute in these cases, it is generally not necessary to show evidence that the accused was involved in distribution – the large quantity of drugs will be used as evidence of this. In other words, if the amount involved is considered more than just a personal amount, the prosecution will build a case of possession with intent to distribute based on the quantity.