Possession of a Controlled Substance in New Hampshire
NOLO Local Defense Lawyers
Enter your zip code to find local criminal defense lawyers.
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. New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire.
Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover New Hampshire’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see New Hampshire Marijuana Laws.
How New Hampshire Classifies CDS
New Hampshire 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.
If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS possession, you’ll need to figure out, given the drug you're charged with producing or selling, which schedule it fits into. New Hampshire law instructs the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services to place illegal drugs in the one of the five schedules mentioned above and publish this information. (N.H. Sta. Ann. § 318-B:1-a.) But the Commissioner has not done so, and the state relies on the federal placement decisions instead. (Schedules I - V are described identically by the federal law and New Hampshire law.) By looking at the federal law at 21 U.S.C.§ 812, you can see the various drugs that fit into the five schedules.
Penalties for Illegal CDS Possession
It is illegal in New Hampshire to possess CDS without a valid medical prescription. Penalties vary according to the type and amount of CDS involved in the violation. All first offenses have a mandatory minimum fine of $350, and $500 for second and subsequent offenses. (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 318-B:26.)
Schedule I, II, III, or IV CDS
Penalties for a first offense include a fine of up to $25,000, up to seven years in prison, or both.
Penalties for a second or subsequent offense include a fine of up to $50,000, up to 15 years in prison, or both.
Schedule V CDS
Illegally possessing any amount of a schedule V CDS incurs a fine of up to $15,000, up to three years in prison, or both. Second and subsequent offenses incur a fine of up to $25,000, up to seven years in prison, or both.
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.