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What does it mean when the federal government enforces drug laws?

| Feb 8, 2021 | Criminal defense |

Both the state and federal government regulates the usage, possession, distribution and manufacturing of drugs. However, despite the overlap found between federal and state laws, there are some notable differences.

State and local law enforcement generally focus on the lower end drug offenses enumerated under State law, such as simple possession, but the laws on what constitutes a crime and potential consequences will differ from state to state.

The role of federal law enforcement

Federal law enforcement focuses a bit more on drug distribution and manufacturing, which can include distribution to minors, distribution of hard drugs and manufacturing near schools. The severity of the consequences, which is determined based on a scheduling system, is also generally higher than at the state level.

In addition, the Controlled Substances Act gives the federal government the right to enforce their laws over the law of the state. This means that if a person is arrested for a drug-related crime in Virginia, depending on the aforementioned factors, the charges may be brought down from federal government or the state for the same underlying factual allegations. However, most drug charges are brought by state law enforcement.

Even though the federal government has the power to supersede state drug laws, the federal law enforcement will often work in tandem with state and local officials to monitor and decrease drug trafficking.

An impending drug charge, whether from the state or federal government lever, can be confusing and extremely worrisome. Seeking the guidance of an attorney can help those facing the system understand the charges and with presenting the strongest case possible.