Possession of a Controlled Substance in Nevada

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All states regulate the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for illegal possession. Nevada classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as CDS, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses illegal CDS possession only. Making or selling CDS (or possessing CDS with the intent to do those things) carries different penalties. For more information on CDS manufacture and sale, see Sale of a Controlled Substances in Nevada.

Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover Nevada’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see Nevada Marijuana Laws.

How Nevada Classifies CDS

Nevada divides CDS into five “schedules.” Schedule I lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse, and increase in recognized medical uses.

The sentencing judge may also use these classes to determine the applicable penalties for illegally possessing specific CDS (described in the next section). If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS possession, you’ll need to consult the Nevada Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group. Go to the statute (Nev. Admin. Code § 453.510, 453.520, 453.530, 453.540, & 453.550.) and find the substance you're charged with possessing -- it will be listed under one of the five classes.

Penalties for Illegal CDS Possession

It is illegal in Nevada to possess CDS without a valid medical prescription. The judge will consider the schedule and amount of CDS involved when sentencing the defendant within the ranges described below.

First or second offense involving a Schedule I, II, III, or IV CDS

Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to one year in jail, or both.

Third or Subsequent Offense Involving a Schedule I, II, III, or IV CDS

Penalties include a fine of up to $20,000, at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both.

First Offense Involving a Schedule V CDS

Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to one year in jail, or both.

Second or Subsequent Offense Involving a Schedule V CDS

Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both.

Possession of Flunitrezepam or Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate

Possession of flunitrezepam, gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or a precursor of these CDS (regardless of whether it is a first or subsequent conviction), is punished with at least one year (and up to six years) in prison.

Talk to an Attorney

Illegally possessing CDS incurs both heavy fines and long periods of incarceration. A local lawyer who practices CDS defense will review the facts of your case, explain your options, and advise you of the possible consequences.

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