Laws on Manufacturing Drugs

The manufacture of any drug, also known as narcotics or controlled substances, is strictly prohibited unless you are properly licensed by state and federal authorities.

By , J.D.

The manufacture of any drug, also known as narcotics or controlled substances, is strictly prohibited unless you are properly licensed by state and federal authorities. Drug manufacturing laws are most commonly seen in cases where someone is growing marijuana or making methamphetamine, but can apply in any situation where a controlled substance is involved.


Drug manufacturing occurs whenever a person participates in any part of the process involved in creating an illegal drug. Manufacturing activities can include mixing together chemicals in preparation for creating LSD, "cooking" or producing methamphetamine, as well as growing marijuana plants. Even offering to assist in the drug manufacturing process is enough to qualify as drug manufacturing.

Distributing Materials

Drug manufacturing laws also prohibit anyone from supplying chemicals, chemical mixtures, components, or materials if the person knows or has a reasonable cause to know that the substances will be used to make illegal drugs. For example, producing methamphetamine, or meth, requires specific chemical components. Anyone who supplies any of these chemicals to someone who then uses them to make methamphetamine can be charged with drug manufacturing if the supplier knew or should have known the person would use them in such a way.


Manufacturing laws also apply to cultivating plants that produce controlled substances. Cultivation typically applies when someone is found growing marijuana plants, psychedelic mushrooms, or other plants used in the drug manufacturing process.

Possession Is Enough

You can be convicted of a drug manufacturing crime even if you never actually make any illicit substances. If you merely possess the chemical components, manufacturing equipment, or other devices involved in the manufacturing of illicit drugs, you can be found guilty of manufacturing.


Drug manufacturing penalties are often significant, with lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines possible for either state or federal violations. Drug manufacturing is often a felony offense, though it may be charged as a misdemeanor crime in some situations, such as where a person is convicted of possessing materials used to manufacture prescription drugs instead of illicit drugs.

  • Prison. Drug manufacturing convictions can lead to prison sentences that last years. Felony drug manufacturing offenses have penalties of at least one year in prison, but sentences can be as high as 10 years or more. Sentences for misdemeanor drug manufacturing charges can result in up to a year in jail.
  • Fines. Fines for drug manufacturing can be substantial. Misdemeanor fines can be as much as $2,000, while felony fines are much steeper, potentially as high as $50,000 or more.
  • Probation. A judge may order someone convicted of drug manufacturing to serve a probation sentence in addition to, or separate from, fines and incarceration. Probation terms usually last at least 1 year, but multiyear probation terms are also common. People on probation must follow the instructions of a probation officer and comply with specific probation conditions, such as not committing more crimes, paying all fees and fines, and submit to random drug testing.
  • Restitution. In some states, you may have to pay restitution in addition to any fines a court imposes. Restitution in drug manufacturing cases is money you have to pay to cover the costs of any damage caused by the drug manufacturing activity, or the costs for law enforcement to clean up a drug lab.

Increased sentences for specific amounts and drug types

Drug manufacturing charges apply to any situation where someone makes or attempts to make a controlled substance. People who actually manufacture drugs can face significantly increased penalties if the amount they made exceed the amount specified by state law. For example, a state may require a harsher penalty if a person is found with more than 9 grams of methamphetamine. Less severe penalties would apply if a person produced less than the 9 grams. The amount that separates less severe from more severe penalties differs by state.

Exacerbating circumstances

If you're convicted of manufacturing drugs, you could face an enhanced penalty if you do so under specific conditions. For example, if you're manufacturing drugs near children you can be charged with a more serious crime than if there were no children present. The more serious the crime, the greater the potential penalty.

Speak to an Attorney

Drug manufacturing charges are extremely serious, and being convicted can mean you spend years in prison. Being charged and convicted of drug manufacturing can ruin your life and make it very difficult for you to find employment even if you never have to serve any time in prison. You need to speak to a local criminal defense attorney as soon as you are investigated or charged with a drug manufacturing crime. Local attorneys with experience dealing with local judges and prosecutors, and who know the drug laws that apply to your case, are the only people who can provide you with legal advice about your case.

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