Kentucky Sale of a Controlled Substance Laws

Learn about the penalties for selling drugs in Kentucky.

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

This article discusses the manufacture and sale of CDS only. Possessing CDS for personal use carries different penalties. For more information on possession of CDS for personal use, see Possession of Controlled Substances in Kentucky.

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

How Kentucky Classifies CDS

Kentucky divides its CDS into five “schedules.” These are used to determine the dangerousness of the CDS, and the applicable penalties for making or selling it (described in the next section).

  • Schedule I drugs. These drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218.040.)
  • Schedule II drugs. These drugs have a high potential for abuse, but also have one or more severely restricted medical uses. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218.060.)
  • Schedule III drugs. These drugs have a potential for abuse that is less than drugs in Schedules I and II (abuse leading to moderate or low physical dependence, or high psychological dependence), and accepted medical uses. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218.080.)
  • Schedule IV drugs. These drugs have a low potential for abuse compared with Schedule III drugs (abuse leading to limited physical or psychological dependence), and currently accepted medical uses. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218.100.)
  • Schedule V drugs. These drugs have a low potential for abuse when compared with Schedule IV drugs, and currently accepted medical uses. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218.120.)

If you’ve been arrested for sale of CDS, you’ll need to consult the Kentucky Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group.

Penalties for Trafficking CDS

“Trafficking” CDS includes making, selling, giving away, or possessing CDS with the intent to do one of those things. The crime—and the applicable penalties—will depend on the type and amount of CDS that was involved in the violation.

Trafficking CDS in the First Degree

Someone who knowingly traffics specified amounts of cocaine, heroine, methamphetamine, other Schedule I or II substances, or LSD may be convicted of trafficking CDS in the First Degree. For charging and sentencing purposes, applicable CDS amounts may occur in a single transaction, or during multiple transactions over up to 90 days.

Violations of this type are a class C felony for a first offense, and a class B felony for second and subsequent offenses. Class C felony penalties include a fine of at least $1,000 (and up to $10,000), or double the gain from the crime (whichever is greater); at least five (and up to ten) years in prison; or both. Class B felonies incur a fine of at least $1,000 (and up to $10,000), or double the gain from the crime (whichever is greater); at least ten (and up to 20) years in prison; or both. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218A.1412.)

Trafficking CDS in the Second Degree

Someone who knowingly traffics specified amounts of Schedule I or II substances that are not narcotic drugs, and some substances in Schedule III; or who unlawfully prescribes or supplies anabolic steroids to enhance athletic performance or increase muscle mass for a nonmedical purpose may be convicted of trafficking CDS in the Second Degree. For charging and sentencing purposes, applicable CDS amounts may occur in a single transaction, or during multiple transactions over up to 90 days.

Violations of this type are a class D felony for a first offense, and a class C felony for second and subsequent offenses. If convicted, class D felony penalties include a fine of at least $1,000 (and up to $10,000), or double the gain from the crime (whichever is greater); at least one (and up to five) years in prison; or both. Class C felony penalties include a fine of at least $1,000 (and up to $10,000), or double the gain from the crime (whichever is greater); at least five (and up to ten) years in prison; or both. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218A.1413.)

Trafficking CDS in the Third Degree

Someone who knowingly traffics specified amounts of Schedule I or II substances that are not narcotic drugs, and some substances in Schedule III; or who unlawfully prescribes or supplies anabolic steroids to enhance athletic performance or increase muscle mass for a nonmedical purpose may be convicted of trafficking CDS in the Third Degree. For charging and sentencing purposes, applicable CDS amounts may be those in a single transaction, or aggregated from multiple transactions occurring from one to 90 days.

Violations of this type are a class A misdemeanor for a first offense, and a class D felony for second and subsequent offenses. If convicted, class A misdemeanor penalties include a fine of $500, up to one year in jail, or both. Class D felony penalties include a fine of at least $1,000 (and up to $10,000), or double the gain from the crime (whichever is greater); at least one (and up to five) years in prison; or both. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218A.1414.)

Trafficking salvia

Knowingly trafficking salvia for human consumption is a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of $500, up to one year in jail, or both. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218A.1450.)

Trafficking a CDS Near a School

Trafficking CDS on or within 1,000 feet of a school (including any building or school property) is a class D felony, unless a higher penalty for the type of CDS or the amount involved applies; in which case, the greater penalty applies. Penalties for a class D felony include a fine of at least $1,000 (and up to $10,000), or double the gain from the crime (whichever is greater); at least one (and up to five) years in prison; or both. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 218A.1411.)

Persistent Felony Offender Status

Increased penalties apply to defendants who have previously been convicted of felony charges. This section does not apply to a defendant who is facing a class D felony charge for what would otherwise be a class A misdemeanor, but has been increased to a felony charge because of a second or subsequent (misdemeanor) offense.

Persistent Felony Offender in the First Degree

A persistent felony offender in the first degree is a defendant who is older than 21, and has two or more previous felony convictions in any state where a felony incurs one year or more of prison time, and the defendant was older than 18 at the time of the previous conviction. The defendant must have either completed the sentence for any of the previous felonies within five years prior to the date when the currently-charged crime was committed, or have been on probation, parole, or in custody at the time of the currently-charged crime.

If the currently charged crime is a class B felony, the applicable prison sentence increases to at least 20 (and up to 50) years. If the currently charged crime is a class C or D felony, the applicable prison sentence increases to at least ten (and up to 20) years. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 532.080.)

Persistent Felony Offender in the Second Degree

A persistent felony offender in the second degree is a defendant who is older than 21, and has one previous felony conviction in any state where a felony incurs one year or more of prison time, and the defendant was older than 18 at the time of the previous conviction. The defendant must have either completed the sentence for the previous felony within five years prior to the date when the currently-charged crime was committed, or have been on probation, parole, or in custody at the time of the currently-charged crime.

A persistent felony offender in the second degree will be sentenced according to the next highest degree of crime from the charged crime. For example, if the defendant’s crime would normally be charged as a class D felony, but the defendant is a persistent felony offender in the second degree, the crime will instead be charged as a class C felony (and incur the applicable penalties for a class C felony upon conviction). (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 532.080.)

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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