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The United States has a long history of cocaine use. Before becoming illegal in 1914, cocaine was used in wine, other counter medications, and sodas. But now… a federal law along with Kentucky law prohibits the sale or possession of cocaine. Made from the leaves of a coca plant, it is a very strong stimulant. Recreational use is illegal across the country, however, it does provide some beneficial medical uses.

How Cocaine Is Used

Cocaine is typically snorted, rubbed on the gums, or injected as it comes in a powdered form. It’s often cut with a variety of other stimulants and opioids. Crack is cocaine that has been processed in rock form and smoked. As with other stimulants, cocaine will increase the amount of dopamine in the brain. This can avert dopamine from naturally recycling and create a build-up in the nerve cells. This process stops normal communication between nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement and reward, which will reinforce drug-taking behavior. While cocaine will give the user alertness and happiness in the short term, irritability and paranoia are also side effects. Long term, it can lead to loss of smell, asthma, bowel decay, risk of infections, movement disorders, heart attacks, and possible death. Every year there are overdoses from cocaine in the United States.

Possessing or Trafficking Cocaine Is Illegal

Kentucky considers cocaine a Schedule II drug, as well as a narcotic. Serious consequences will adhere if found to possess or traffic this controlled substance.Possession of cocaine is a Class D felony. It is a Schedule II drug and possessing any amount will be classified as such. The maximum term of imprisonment for this offense is 3 years. If this is a first or second offense of cocaine possession, then a Kentucky judge may sentence the defendant to deferred prosecution or presumptive probation. Terms may vary in these alternative sentences. Such programs will allow one facing possession charges to comply with certain conditions, such as rehabilitation in exchange for the charges to be dropped upon completion of the program.

What is Cocaine Trafficking?

If found to possess more cocaine than one can use personally, then they may be charged with trafficking in the first degree. The law in Kentucky prohibits knowingly and unlawfully trafficking (which includes manufacturing, distributing, selling or possessing with the intent to do any of these things) cocaine. The amount found in possession will determine the sentence of this charge. If found with 4 or more grams of cocaine, in a single transaction or cumulatively over a period of up to 90 days, they could face charges of a Class C felony for a first offense and Class B felony for a second or greater offense. Class C felony is punishable by up to 5-10 years in prison, while a Class B felony is punishable by between 10 to 20 years imprisonment. Regardless of the quantity, one is found with, cocaine trafficking in the first degree is charged as a Class D felony for a first offense and Class C felony for a second or greater offense. Punishable by at least one and up to five years imprisonment with a Class D felony you may also face a fine of up to $10,000. A potential defense against cocaine possession and trafficking charges could be if the drugs were seized with an illegal search or seizure, which would be grounds to suppress any evidence.

Does Kentucky Law Distinguish Between Crack and Cocaine?

There is a distinction between powder cocaine and crack cocaine at the federal level of the law for sentencing purposes. In 2010 the Fair Sentencing Act reduced disparity 18-1. Until this time, a person would have needed to possess 110 times more powder cocaine, than one with crack cocaine to receive the same sentence. With Kentucky law, there isn’t a difference between powder or crack cocaine, any form is a Schedule II narcotic. Cocaine is subject to the same prohibitions against possession and trafficking regardless of whether powder or crack form. There are significant concerns on a federal level of the difference in sentencing for powder and crack cocaine, as Kentucky treats all forms of cocaine equally. If found to possess or traffick any form of cocaine it is irrelevant of its form.

Michael A. O’Hara, PLLC Can Help You With Criminal Litigation

Criminal Litigation includes drug and alcohol offenses, like possession, and distribution of controlled substances. Criminal Litigation involves a governmental entity, like a county, state, or federal government imposing a set of behavioral standards on the general society by punishing individuals, the government believes has acted outside those standards. Criminal Litigation always involves important constitutional rights of the accused. Often, when the government does not respect the rights of the accused, they are not permitted to punish.
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About Michael A. O’Hara, PLLC

When you have to deal with the justice system – whether related to a civil or criminal matter – you need more than the truth on your side. You need a skilled attorney who can employ sound legal strategies to produce the results you are hoping for. I am attorney Michael A. O’Hara, and I am licensed to practice in Kentucky and Ohio at the state level, as well as in Federal District Court and the Federal Court of Claims. I have been representing clients in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area since 1994.
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