Criminal Law

Unlawful Possession - Offenses Involving Drugs

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§2D2.1GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

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§2D2.1. Unlawful Possession; Attempt or Conspiracy

(a) Base Offense Level:

(1) 8, if the substance is heroin or any Schedule I or II opiate, an analogue of these, or cocaine base; or

(2) 6, if the substance is cocaine, flunitrazepam, LSD, or PCP; or

(3) 4, if the substance is any other controlled substance or a list I chemical.

(b) Cross References

(1) If the defendant is convicted of possession of more than 5 grams of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base, apply §2D1.1 (Unlawful Manufacturing, Importing, Exporting, or Trafficking) as if the defendant had been convicted of possession of that mixture or substance with intent to distribute.

(2) If the offense involved possession of a controlled substance in a prison, correctional facility, or detention facility, apply §2P1.2 (Providing or Possessing Contraband in Prison).


Statutory Provision: 21 U.S.C. § 844(a). For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Note:

1. The typical case addressed by this guideline involves possession of a controlled substance by the defendant for the defendant’s own consumption. Where the circumstances establish intended consumption by a person other than the defendant, an upward departure may be warranted.

Background: Mandatory (statutory) minimum penalties for several categories of cases, ranging from fifteen days’ to five years’ imprisonment, are set forth in 21 U.S.C. § 844(a). When a mandatory minimum penalty exceeds the guideline range, the mandatory minimum becomes the guideline sentence. See §5G1.1(b). Note, however, that 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) provides an exception to the applicability of mandatory minimum sentences in certain cases. See §5C1.2 (Limitation on Applicability of Statutory Minimum Sentences in Certain Cases).

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