Distribution and Possession of Controlled Substances

The District of Columbia still takes a hard line against distribution of controlled substances. The most commonly distributed drugs are heroin, crack cocaine, PCP and marijuana. Although the days of four years mandatory-minimum incarceration are long gone, distribution of a tiny amount of heroin, cocaine or PCP can expose a suspect to up to thirty years incarceration. While such a sentence is considered unthinkable, the discretion with the judge remains. A troubling aspect of the District of Columbia distribution law is that distribution is not limited to an actual sale. Accordingly, an individual can simply share a small amount of heroin or crack with a friend and still be prosecuted as a drug dealer — facing thirty years imprisonment.

Distribution of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum period of 180 days in jail if the individual has no prior drug-related conviction. A second time offender faces five years incarceration even though marijuana possession constitutes a crime only in rare circumstances.

Possession of heroin, cocaine and PCP (other than in a pure liquid form) is a misdemeanor of 180 days in jail and a fine.

Possession of liquid PCP carries a penalty of three years incarceration.