Controlled Substance Crimes & Penalties

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Controlled Substance Crimes & Penalties in Minnesota

Proven Defense From Drug Crime Attorneys in Minneapolis

The state of Minnesota enforces strict laws over controlled substances, as well has what can be harsh and life-altering penalties. Under newly reformed drug laws, crimes involving controlled substances are classified into 5 categories of severity – ranging from the most serious first-degree controlled substance crimes to the least severe fifth-degree crimes. These categories entail various offenses related to possession, use, sale, and distribution / trafficking for various drugs, which are also classified by Schedules according to their potential for abuse. Drugs deemed controlled substances include:

  • Cocaine and Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • Amphetamines, PCP, and Hallucinogens (i.e. LSD)
  • Marijuana / THC
  • Various narcotics (i.e. opiates, benzodiazepine, prescription medications, etc.)

Drug crime charges in Minnesota are based on the type of drug and quantity involved, as well as whether the offense involves possession or sale. Below, we explain charges and penalties associated with various drug crimes:


First-degree controlled substance crimes are the most serious drug crimes under Minnesota law, and they include both possession and sale crimes, in addition to the manufacture of methamphetamine.

First-Degree Sale Crimes – Sale crimes can be prosecuted as controlled substance crimes in the first degree when they involve minimum thresholds established by Minnesota law. This includes:

  • Cocaine / Methamphetamine – 17 grams
  • Heroin – 10 grams
  • Amphetamine, PCP, Hallucinogens – 200 dosage units / 50 grams
  • Marijuana / THC – 25 kg (55 pounds)
  • Other controlled substance narcotics – 50 grams

First-Degree Possession Crimes – Individuals can also be charged with first-degree drug crimes for possession of controlled substances that meet minimum thresholds, including:

  • Cocaine / Methamphetamine – 50 grams; or 25 grams while using / brandishing a firearm or with two aggravating factors
  • Heroin – 25 grams
  • Amphetamine, PCP, Hallucinogens – 500 dosage units / 500 grams
  • Marijuana / THC – 50 kg (110 pounds)
  • Other controlled substance narcotics – 500 grams

Manufacturing Methamphetamine – Minnesota makes it a first-degree drug crime to manufacture any amount of controlled substance.

Penalties – Up to 30 years imprisonment, fines up to $1 million, or both. If a defendant has a prior felony drug conviction, they face a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years. Convictions involving larger quantities of drugs (100 grams of controlled substance or more, or 500 or more doses) can trigger a 65-month mandatory minimum. Aggravating factors will also elevate penalties.


Second-Degree Sale Crimes

  • Cocaine / Methamphetamine – 17 grams; or 3 grams with use of firearm or three aggravating factors
  • Heroin – 3 grams
  • Amphetamine, PCP, Hallucinogens – 50 doses
  • Marijuana / THC – 10 kg (22 pounds)
  • Other controlled substance narcotics – 10 grams
  • Sale of Schedule I or II narcotics to minor, or in a park, school zone, public housing, or drug treatment facility

Second-Degree Possession Crimes

  • Cocaine / Methamphetamine – 25 grams; or 10 grams with use of firearm or three aggravating factors
  • Heroin – 6 grams
  • Amphetamine, PCP, Hallucinogens – 100 dosage units
  • Marijuana / THC – 25 kg (55 pounds) or 100 cannabis plants
  • Other controlled substance narcotics – 50 grams

Penalties – Up to 25 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. Previous drug crime convictions and aggravating factors can also result in lengthier prison sentences, including a 3-year mandatory minimum for a previous drug felony.


Third-Degree Sale Crimes

  • Cocaine / Methamphetamine – any amount
  • Heroin – any amount
  • Amphetamine, PCP, Hallucinogens – 10 dosage units
  • Marijuana / THC – 5 kg (11 pounds)
  • Other controlled substance narcotics – any amount
  • Sale of Schedule I, II, or III drug (except Schedule I or II narcotic) to minor or employing a minor to sell

Third-Degree Sale Crimes

  • Heroin – 3 grams
  • Marijuana / THC – 15 kg (22 pounds)
  • Other controlled substance narcotics – 10 grams / 50 doses
  • Any amount of Schedule I or II narcotic, 5 doses of LSD, MDA, MDMA in a school, park, public housing, or drug treatment facility

Penalties – Up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.


Fourth-Degree Sale Crimes

  • Any amount of a Schedule I, II or III drug
  • Sale of Schedule IV or V drug to minor
  • Any amount of marijuana in a school, park, public housing, or drug treatment facility

Fourth-Degree Possession Crimes

  • PCP or Hallucinogen – 10 doses
  • Any amount of a Schedule I, II, or III drug with intent to sell

Penalties – Up to 15 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.


Fifth-Degree Sale Crimes

  • Any amount of marijuana, except small amounts for no remuneration
  • Any amount of a Schedule IV drug

Fifth-Degree Possession Crimes

  • Any amount of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV drug, except 42.5 grams or less of marijuana
  • Attempt to acquire, possession, or control over a controlled substance through fraud or misrepresentation, using a false name, or falsely representing a physician

Penalties – Up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Questions about Minnesota Drug Crimes? Call Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A.

Minnesota controlled substance crimes are highly dependent on individual facts and circumstances. For example, previous criminal convictions and aggravating factors (which can include prior violent crime convictions, gang crimes, crossing of state or international borders, and more) can elevate presumptive sentences established under Minnesota’s Drug Offender Grid.

Our legal team at Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. can help you better understand the charges and penalties you face by personally discussing your case. Our award-winning attorneys have a proven record in successfully defending clients against all types of state and federal drug charges, including the most serious. Call (612) 444-5020 today to request a free and confidential consultation.


  • 1. Don’t Talk to the Police!

    It’s crucial to know that while you should remain respectful with authorities, you have the right to remain silent. This a right protected by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which makes it clear individuals are protected from being compelled to be a witness against him / herself in criminal matters.

    It’s important to note that:

    • Talking will not help you avoid an arrest. If law enforcement has probable cause to arrest you, then they will arrest you.
    • By speaking, you risk making a confession or providing information that can be used to indict you, even unknowingly.
    • Even if you feel that information being discussed is “harmless,” it is still in your best interest to invoke your Fifth Amendment right.
  • 2. Ask for a Lawyer!
    As soon as you can you should elect your right to have a defense attorney present. A Minnesota criminal defense lawyer or public defender can ensure the police do not violate your rights and help you avoid saying anything incriminating during questioning. Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so that we can be by your side whenever you need us. Call now!

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