Cocaine has a long history in the United States. More than 100 years ago, it was used in sodas, in over-the-counter medications, and even in wines. It wasn’t until 1914 that cocaine became illegal in the United States.
In addition to federal law, Kentucky law explicitly prohibits the possession and sale of cocaine. This drug is a powerful stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant. While it does have some valid medical uses, its recreational use is illegal across the country.
Cocaine is typically sold in powdered form, often cut with a variety of substances, such as other stimulants or opioids. Cocaine that has been processed to make a rock is known as crack; this product is then smoked, while cocaine powder is typically snorted, rubbed onto the gums, or injected.
Like other stimulants, cocaine increases the amount of dopamine in the brain. It prevents dopamine from being recycled, causing the dopamine to build up between nerve cells. This stops the normal communication between nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement and reward, and reinforces drug-taking behaviors.
Cocaine has a number of short and long-term effects on users’ health and well-being. While it can lead to happiness and alertness in the short-term, it can also cause irritability and paranoia. Over time, it can lead to loss of smell, asthma, bowel decay, risk infections, movement disorders, heart attacks, and death. In 2017, there were 51 overdose deaths from cocaine use in Kentucky.
Because cocaine is a controlled substance, anyone who possesses or traffics this drug may face felony criminal charges under Kentucky law. Learn more about cocaine in Kentucky from an experienced Lexington drug defense attorney.
How Does Kentucky Law Treat Crimes Involving Cocaine?
In Kentucky, cocaine is considered a Schedule II drug, as well as a narcotic. As such, there are significant consequences for possessing, selling (trafficking) this controlled substance.
One common drug charge involving cocaine involves possession. Because cocaine is a Schedule II drug, possession of cocaine in any amount is charged as a Class D felony. The maximum term of imprisonment for this offense is 3 years.
However, if the charge for cocaine possession in Kentucky is a first or second offense, then a judge may sentence a defendant to a period of deferred prosecution or presumptive probation. The terms of these sentencing alternatives will vary, but in essence, these programs will allow a person facing possession charges to comply with certain conditions (such as attending a drug treatment program) in exchange for having the charges dropped for successful completion.
If a person possesses more cocaine than what he or she would personally use, then they may be charged with trafficking in the first degree. Kentucky law prohibits knowingly and unlawfully trafficking (which includes manufacturing, distributing, selling or possessing with the intent to do any of these things) cocaine. The potential sentence for this charge will vary based on the amount of cocaine involved.
If a person traffics 4 or more grams of cocaine, in a single transaction or cumulatively over a period of up to 90 days, he or she will be charged with a Class C felony for a first offense and a Class B felony for a second or greater offense. A Class C felony is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, while a Class B felony is punishable by between 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment.
For any other quantity of cocaine, trafficking in the first degree is charged as a Class D felony for a first offense and a Class C felony for a second or greater offense. A Class D felony is punishable by at least one and up to five years incarceration, and a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000.
There are potential defenses against cocaine possession and trafficking charges. If the drugs were seized pursuant to an illegal search or seizure, that may be grounds to have the evidence suppressed. For example, studies have shown that drug-sniffing dogs react more frequently to their human handlers’ cues than to the presence of drugs. This may be used to demonstrate that evidence located using such a dog should be suppressed.
Does Kentucky Distinguish Between Cocaine and Crack?
At the federal level, there is a distinction in the law between powder cocaine and crack cocaine for sentencing purposes. Until 2010, a person would need to have 100 times more powder cocaine than someone who possessed crack cocaine in order to receive the same sentence. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced that disparity to 18 to 1.
This difference in sentencing for powder versus crack cocaine is not present in Kentucky law. Cocaine in any form is listed as a Schedule II drug under Kentucky’s Controlled Substances Schedule. As a Schedule II drug, cocaine is subject to the same prohibitions against possession and trafficking, whether in powder or crack form.
While there are significant concerns on the federal level about the difference in sentencing for powder and crack cocaine, for Kentucky state charges, all types of cocaine are treated equally. If you have been arrested for possession or trafficking of cocaine, it is irrelevant whether it is in powder or crack form.
Work with a Lexington Drug Defense Attorney
While cocaine is often viewed as a “party” drug, its use can have very significant consequences. Not only can cocaine cause serious health effects (including death), but an arrest related to possession or trafficking of cocaine in Kentucky can result in a lengthy prison sentence.
For more than 30 years, the Baldani Law Group has served clients who are facing Kentucky criminal charges. We represent clients in Carlisle, Danville, Frankfort, Georgetown, Harrodsburg, Lawrenceburg, Lexington, Morehead, Mt. Vernon, Nicholasville, Paris, Richmond, Versailles, Williamstown, and Winchester. We will fight for your rights and your freedom. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Lexington drug defense attorney, call our office today at 859-259-0727 or contact us online anytime.