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Drug Cultivation


The cultivation or manufacturing of substances classified as “controlled dangerous substances” without legal authority is a felony crime under both Federal and state laws with one exception:  the cultivation of marijuana in those states where this is permitted.  However, even though legal in certain states, Federal law prohibiting cultivation still applies, so it is possible to be charged with cultivation under Federal statutes.

Manufacturing of a controlled dangerous substance, such as crack cocaine, or methamphetamines, for example, are equally punishable under both state and Federal laws.

Burden of Proof

It isn’t enough to charge a person with cultivating or manufacturing if the only evidence is the presence of grow lights in a person’s home.  There must be more evidence.  Authorities making a charge of cultivating or manufacturing drugs must be able to prove that the person charged was in possession of materials required for the cultivating or manufacturing, and that there was the intent to do so.

Enforcement and Penalties

Although it may be legal in some states to cultivate marijuana, Federal charges are still possible, because of a legal principle known as “pre-emption.”  That means that although something may be legal in a state, or illegal in a state, the Federal law takes precedence over the state law.  This can result in confusion as to whether a person might be charged by Federal authorities if the possession or cultivation takes place in a state permitting it for medicinal or even recreational purposes.  Whether or not a person will be charged under Federal law seems to depend chiefly on the political climate at the Federal level at the time of the alleged crime.

There is variation in penalties at the state level, determined by the state and circumstances of the case, typically carrying fines in the tens of thousands, with prison terms of at least one year.  But under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, simple possession, a misdemeanor, can result in fines in the thousands of dollars along with a prison term typically of up to one year.  Cultivation or manufacture, on the other hand, especially with the intent to distribute, is a felony, resulting in fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and terms of imprisonment of up to five years.  Repeat offenders would normally be subjected to even harsher penalties.

The Federal law also could be applied to persons owning property where drugs are cultivated or manufactured, such as landlords or owners of commercial buildings, if it can be proven that the property owner had knowledge of the drug cultivation or manufacture taking place there.

Possible Defenses

Although drug crimes of every kind are aggressively prosecuted, there are some methods employed by defense attorneys to either have the charges reduced or dropped entirely.

One method involves investigating the arrest process, to find out whether the accused person’s civil rights were violated.  Another method is to determine whether entrapment was used, or whether a false charge was made, or if there were other improprieties committed during the arrest process.

In addition, some evidence in favor of the accused may have been suppressed, or evidence used against the accused may have been misplaced or misused by authorities, or simply be inconclusive.  Forensic experts may be called in to assist in these situations.

Legal Help in Drug Cultivation or Manufacturing Cases

Persons charged with Drug Cultivation or Manufacturing should always seek the legal advice of a qualified attorney experienced in cases of this kind.

To find an attorney, go to our Search Page, enter the charge, “Drug Cultivation” or “Drug Manufacturing,” and then enter the location.