Arkansas Sale of a Controlled Substance Laws

Convictions for drug delivery and purpose to deliver drugs carry stiff sentences in Arkansas with lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines.

All states regulate and control the possession of controlled substances. Arkansas classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses sale of controlled substances—referred to as “delivery” or “possession with the purpose to deliver” in Arkansas statute.

(The possession of controlled substances for personal use carries different penalties. For more information on possession of controlled substances for personal use, see Possession of Controlled Substances in Arkansas.)

Classification of Controlled Substances: Schedules I to VI

Arkansas divides its controlled substances into six “schedules,” according to their potential for abuse and accepted medical use. Some controlled substances, like codeine (a common painkiller), can be possessed legally so long as the holder has a valid prescription.

  • Schedule I drugs (such as opiates and hallucinogens) have the highest likelihood of abuse and no accepted medical use.
  • Schedule II drugs (such as raw opium and amphetamines) have a high likelihood of abuse, have an accepted medical use, and if abused, can result in severe psychological and physical dependence.
  • Schedule III drugs (such as pentobarbital and anabolic steroids) have a lower likelihood of abuse than Schedule I or II drugs, have an accepted medical use, and if abused, can lead to low or moderate physical dependence and high psychological dependence.
  • Schedule IV drugs (such as changed tramadol) have a lower likelihood of abuse than Schedule III drugs, have an acceptable medical use, and if abused, can lead to limited psychological and physical dependence.
  • Schedule V drugs (such as pseudoephedrine) have a lower likelihood of abuse than Schedule IV drugs, have a currently accepted medical use, and can lead to limited physical or psychological dependence compared to Schedule IV drugs.
  • Schedule VI drugs (marijuana and salvia divinorum) are substances that have no acceptable medical use, are unsafe even under direct medical supervision, have a high likelihood of physical and/or psychological dependence, and their use poses a significant risk to public health.

For more on marijuana possession, see Possession of Marijuana in Arkansas.

(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-203 to -216 (2019).)

Delivery or Possession With Purpose to Deliver

Arkansas law refers to illegal drug sale crimes as the “delivery of controlled substances” and “possession of controlled substances with purpose to deliver.”

Delivery. Delivery means to transfer or attempt to transfer from one person to another a controlled substance in exchange for money or anything of value. A completed sales transaction does not need to occur.

Possession with purpose to deliver. Depending on the circumstances, someone charged with possessing an illegal drug might instead end up facing charges of possession with purpose to deliver—sometimes called intent to sell or intent to distribute. A person’s purpose to deliver is based on evidence showing the accused intended to sell the drugs and not possess them for personal use, such as:

  • the presence of weight scales and packaging materials
  • records indicating drug-related transactions
  • physical control of a firearm, or
  • possession of multiple controlled substances in any amount.

(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-101, 5-64-422 and additional sections (2019).)

Crimes for Delivery and Possession With Purpose to Deliver

In Arkansas, most crimes for delivery of, and possession with purpose to deliver, controlled substances carry felony penalties.

Arkansas divides felonies by severity into six offense classes (unclassified, Y, A, B, C, and D), with the most serious felonies placed in Class Y and the least serious felonies in Class D. Felony drug delivery or purpose to deliver crimes fall into Classes A, B, C, D, and Y, with penalties ranging from a year to up to 40 years in prison.

A few delivery-related crimes are misdemeanors. Those referenced in this article are Class A misdemeanors, which is the most serious misdemeanor offense level and carries a maximum sentence of one year’s imprisonment.

(Ark. Code § 5-4-401 (2019).)

Schedules I and II: Delivery or Possession With Purpose to Deliver

Penalties for delivery of, and possession with purpose to deliver, Schedule I and II drugs range from a Class C to Class Y felony.

Cocaine or Methamphetamine

Possession with purpose to deliver or actual delivery of methamphetamine or cocaine is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:

  • Less than two grams is a Class C felony.
  • Two grams or more but less than ten grams is a Class B felony.

If the amount is ten grams or more but less than 200 grams:

  • Possession with the purpose to deliver is a Class A felony.
  • Actual delivery is a Class Y felony.

Not Methamphetamine or Cocaine

Possession with the purpose to deliver or the actual delivery of Schedule I or II controlled substances other than methamphetamine or cocaine is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:

  • Less than two grams is a Class C felony.
  • Two grams or more but less than 28 grams is a Class B felony.
  • 80 or more but less than 160 doses of hydromorphone hydrochloride or LSD is a Class B felony.
  • 80 or more but less than 160 doses and no more than 200 grams of a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant is a Class B felony.
  • 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams is a Class A felony.
  • 160 doses or more but less than 200 grams of hydromorphone hydrochloride, LSD, or a Schedule I or II depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant is a Class A felony.

(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-420, -422, -424, -426 (2019).)

Schedule III: Delivery or Possession With Purpose to Deliver

Possession with purpose to deliver a Schedule III controlled substances is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:

  • Less than 28 grams, and not a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant, is a Class C felony.
  • Less than 80 doses of a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant is a Class C felony.
  • 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams, and not a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant, is a Class B felony.
  • 80 or more but less than 160 doses of a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant is a Class B felony.
  • 200 grams or more but less than 400 grams, and not a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant, is a Class A felony.
  • 160 doses or more of a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant is a Class A felony.

Delivery of Schedule III controlled substances is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:

  • Less than 28 grams is a Class C felony.
  • 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams is a Class B felony.
  • 200 grams or more is a Class A felony.

(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-428, -430 (2019).)

Schedules IV and V: Delivery or Possession With Purpose to Deliver

Possession with the purpose to deliver Schedule IV or V controlled substances is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:

  • Less than 200 grams, and not a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant, is a Class D felony.
  • Less than 80 doses for a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant is a Class D felony.
  • 200 grams or more but less than 400 grams, and not a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant, is a Class C felony
  • 80 or more but less than 160 doses of a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant is a Class C felony.
  • 400 grams or more but less than 800 grams, and not a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant, is a Class B felony.
  • 160 doses or more but less than 800 grams of a depressant, hallucinogenic, or stimulant is a Class B felony.

Delivery of Schedule IV or V controlled substances is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:

  • Less than 200 grams is a Class D felony.
  • 200 grams or more but less than 400 grams is a Class C felony.
  • 400 grams or more but less than 800 grams is a Class B felony.

(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-432, -434 (2019).)

Schedule VI: Delivery or Possession With Purpose to Deliver

Possession with the purpose to deliver or the actual delivery of a Schedule VI controlled substance is punished based on the amount of the substance involved:

  • 14 grams or less is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • More than 14 grams but less than four ounces is a Class D felony.
  • Four ounces or more but less than 25 pounds is a Class C felony.
  • 25 pounds or more but less than 100 pounds is a Class B felony.
  • 100 pounds or more but less than 500 pounds is a Class A felony.

(Ark. Code §§ 5-64-436, -438 (2019).)

Trafficking: Schedules I to VI

Delivery of, or possession with purpose to deliver, the following amounts of a controlled substance constitutes trafficking and is punishable as a Class Y felony:

  • 200 grams or more of a Schedule I or II drug,
  • 400 grams or more of a Schedule III drug,
  • 800 grams or more of a Schedule IV or V drug, and
  • 500 pounds or more of a Schedule VI drug.

(Ark. Code 5-64-440 (2019).)

Enhanced Penalties

Arkansas law provides harsher penalties for delivery crimes committed under certain circumstances, as described below.

Repeat Offenders

The law allows extended terms of imprisonment for defendants with prior felony convictions and a doubling of a sentence for defendants with prior drug convictions involving marijuana, hallucinogens, narcotics, depressants, or stimulants.

(Ark. Code §§ 5-4-501, 5-64-408 (2019).)

Sale or Delivery to a Minor

A controlled substance crime involving delivery to a minor (younger than 18) can incur serious penalties, including two times the punishment or an additional 10 years’ imprisonment.

(Ark. Code § 5-64-406. (2019).)

Near Schools, Public Facilities, and Other Designated Areas

A defendant may be punished by an additional ten years’ incarceration for delivery of, or possession with purpose to deliver, a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of these facilities:

  • city or state park
  • public or private school, college, or university campus
  • school bus stop
  • skating rink, Boys Club, Girls Club, YMCA, YWCA, community center, recreation center, or video arcade
  • public housing project
  • drug or alcohol treatment center
  • daycare center
  • place of worship, or
  • shelter as defined.

(Ark. Code § 5-64-411 (2019).)

Continuing Criminal Enterprise

A “continuing criminal enterprise” occurs when a defendant derives substantial income from an enterprise carried out with at least five other people and involving in the commission of a series of two or more felonies.

Engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise is an unclassified felony. Defendants face a sentence that is twice that of the underlying crime. The penalty for a second conviction is incarceration for a period that is three times that of the underlying crime.

(Ark. Code § 5-64-405 (2019).)

Other Sale or Delivery Crimes

Arkansas also makes it illegal to deliver drug paraphernalia—items used to ingest, inhale, or inject controlled substances—to a minor who is at least three years younger than the defendant. If the drug paraphernalia is delivered in furtherance of a felony controlled substance violation, the offense is a Class B felony. In all other cases, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. (Ark. Code § 5-64-444 (2019).)

Even though nitrous oxide is not a scheduled controlled substance, Arkansas still punishes people who purposely sell, offer to sell, distribute, or give away nitrous oxide for the purpose of intoxication. The unlawful distribution of nitrous oxide is a Class A misdemeanor. (Ark. Code § 5-64-1202 (2019).)

Talk to an Attorney

Convictions for drug delivery and purpose to deliver drugs carry stiff sentences, involving lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. Sentences can double or even triple under certain circumstances. If you face delivery charges, contact an attorney who specializes in the defense of drug crimes who can provide you with legal advice and information on the potential consequences of the charges against you.

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