Possession of a Controlled Substance in Minnesota

All states regulate and control the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for sale. Minnesota 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 carries different penalties. For more information on CDS manufacture and sale, see Sale of a Controlled Substances in Minnesota.

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

How Minnesota Classifies CDS

Minnesota 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.

These classes are also used 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 Minnesota Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group. Go to the statute (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 152.02) and find the substance you're charged with possessing -- it will be listed under one of the five classes.

Penalties for Possessing CDS

It is illegal in Minnesota to possess CDS without a prescription from a licensed physician. Penalties vary according to the type and amount of the CDS involved.

Controlled substance crime in the first degree

Possessing the following types and amounts of CDS is punished with a fine of up to $1,000,000, up to 30 years in prison, or both. Second and subsequent convictions are punished with a fine of up to $1,000,000, at least four (and up to 40) years in prison, or both. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 152.021.)

  • One or more mixtures containing cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine, weighing 25 grams or more
  • Narcotic drugs (other than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine ) weighing 500 grams or more
  • Hallucinogens, amphetamine, or phencyclidine weighing 500 grams or more or packaged in 500 or more dosage units

Controlled substance crime in the second degree

Possessing the following types and amounts of CDS is punished with a fine of up to $500,000, up to 25 years in prison, or both. Second and subsequent convictions are punished with a fine of up to $1,000,000, at least three (and up to 40) years in prison, or both. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 152.022.)

  • Six grams or more (but less than 25 grams) of a mixture (a preparation, compound, mixture, or substance containing a controlled substance, regardless of purity) containing cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine
  • 50 grams or more (but less than 500 grams) of a mixture containing a narcotic drug other than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine
  • A mixture containing hallucinogens, amphetamine, or phencyclidine, weighing 50 grams or more (but less than 500 grams) or packaged in 100 or more (but fewer than 500) dosage units

Controlled substance crime in the third Degree

When possessed on one or more occasions in a 90-day period, the following types and amounts of CDS are punished with a fine of up to $250,000, up to 20 years in prison, or both. Second and subsequent convictions are punished with a fine of up to $250,000, at least two (and up to 30) years in prison, or both. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 152.023.)

  • Three grams or more (but less than six grams) of a mixture containing cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine
  • Ten grams or more (but fewer than 50 grams) of a mixture containing a narcotic drug other than cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine
  • One or more mixtures containing a narcotic drug packaged in 50 or more (but fewer than 100) dosage units
  • Any amount of a schedule I or II narcotic drug, or five or more dosage units of LSD (or other specified CDS) in a school, park, or public housing zone, or in a drug treatment facility

Controlled substance crime in the fourth degree

Possessing the following types and amounts of CDS are punished with a fine of up to $100,000, up to 15 years in prison, or both. Second and subsequent convictions are punished with a fine of up to $100,000, at least one (and up to 30) years in prison, or both. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 152.024.)

  • One or more mixtures containing phencyclidine or hallucinogen packaged in ten or more dosage units
  • One or more mixtures of a schedule I, II, or III CDS (excluding marijuana) with the intent to sell it

Controlled substance crime in the fifth degree

Possessing one or more mixtures containing a schedule I, II, III, or IV substance not specified above is punished with a fine of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both. Second and subsequent convictions are punished with a fine of up to $20,000, at least six months in jail (and up to 10 years in prison), or both. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 152.025.)

Possession of Precursors with Intent to Manufacture Methamphetamine

It is illegal to possess specified drug precursors (such as ephedrine or iodine) with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Many of these precursors are common household chemicals, but when possessed in order to make drugs, penalties include a fine of up to $30,000, up to 15 years in prison, or both. (Mn. Stat. Ann. § 152.0262.)

Talk to an Attorney

CDS manufacture or sale convictions incur 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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