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Understanding drug laws in Pennsylvania

Residents in Pennsylvania may benefit by learning more about the laws or federal drug charges that may be governed by the state's Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device and Cosmetic Act. This legislation pertains to the possession, sales and manufacturing of controlled substances. The act also establishes the state's authority in classifying controlled substances and issuing penalties against any prohibited offenses. The act shares many of the same definitions and terms found in the Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act.

Controlled substances are defined as a substance, immediate precursor or drug that is included in Schedule I through Schedule V of the act. The act gives the Secretary of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania authority over adding new items to the list of controlled substances. The secretary must consider whether the substance is controlled under Federal law or if it's a precursor to a substance already included on the list.

The patterns, potential and scope of abuse, pharmacological effects and risk to public health are also factors the secretary must consider. Any substances that can be lawfully sold under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act may be exempt from the state's Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device and Cosmetic Act. The act also exercises authority over the misbranding of any controlled substances, including those determined to be habit-forming by Federal law.

Anyone who commits the prohibited acts described under Section 13 may be subject to conviction of a misdemeanor or felony charge, which could include up to $5,000 in fines and one year in jail. People facing state or federal drug charges often benefit from contacting a criminal defense lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to help defendants avoid severe penalties by challenging the credibility of the prosecutor's case.

Source: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, "The Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act", November 04, 2014

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