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Possession of Cocaine - HS 11350

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine) is a central nervous system stimulant derived from the leaves of the South American coca plant. Because of its high potential for abuse, cocaine is considered a dangerous drug, reserved for limited medical purposes. Personal use, possession, purchase, sale, transport, import and manufacture of cocaine are serious crimes with penalties of imprisonment, fines and/or mandatory drug diversion and treatment.

Sometimes called Coke, Coca, Crack, Blow, Flake, Snow and Soda Cot, cocaine is usually sold on the street as a white, crystalline powder, (cocaine hydrochloride–a salt). Drug dealers typically add fillers to the powder such as sugar or anesthetics. Users snort or inject cocaine to experience its intense effects of euphoria, increased energy and endurance.

Cocaine base (freebase) is a purer, more powerfully addictive form of the drug is illegal for all uses in the United States. Crack cocaine (introduced in the mid 1980s) is a variation of cocaine base. It’s sold in chunks or “rocks” that make crackling sounds when smoked, hence the name “Crack.”

Addiction to cocaine or crack creates a powerful psychological dependency. Regular misuse creates a tolerance requiring larger doses for the same effects. Some of the problems related to cocaine abuse and addiction include itching, hallucinations, paranoid delusions, depression, damage to cartilage in the nostrils, kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, and fatal overdose.

What is the History of Cocaine?

South American native cultures have used coca leaves for medicinal and recreational benefit for more than a thousand years. Modern cocaine traces to the mid 1800s. In 1859, Albert Niemann was credited with improving the process of isolating it from coca leaves while working on his PhD at Germany’s University of Gottigen. He named the drug “Cocaine”.

Cocaine quickly became popular in Europe, and later the United States, as a cure for common ailments like toothaches, fatigue and headaches. By the late 1880s, it was used as a local anesthetic and treatment for morphine addiction. In the U.S., it was unregulated until the early 20th century, and available in drug stores for every day use in the form of powders, tinctures, tonics, tablets, cigarettes, and soda. Coca-Cola’s original recipe in 1856 included coca leaves and it remained an ingredient until it was replaced with caffeine in 1903. Widespread unregulated use led to problems with abuse and addiction, followed by calls for prohibition. In 1910, President William Taft declared cocaine a national threat. In 1914, Congress outlawed cocaine for non-medical use with the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act.

Cocaine is currently regulated at federal and levels under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, adopted by each state. It’s approved for limited medical uses as a topical anesthetic.

Current Legal Status

Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II stimulant under the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act [Cal. Health and Safety Code, Section 11055]. Schedule II drugs are classified on the basis of three findings:

  1. The drug or substance has a high potential for abuse.
  2. The drug or substance has currently accepted medical use in treatment, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
  3. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Cocaine base drugs, including crack cocaine, are more severely restricted than powder cocaine. Cocaine base is classified as a Schedule I controlled substances with no legitimate medical use [Cal. Health and Safety Code, Section 11054].

What Are The Penalties for Possession of Cocaine or Crack fFor Personal Use? Hs 11350

California penalties are divided into two categories for possession: “simple” possession and possession with intent to sell, depending on the type and amount of the illegal drug and the purpose of the possession.

Personal use or “simple possession” of cocaine or crack is a felony violation of California Health and Safety Code, Section 11350. The sentence for conviction is 16 months to three years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. [Cal. Health and Safety Code, Section 11370.4, Penal Code, Section 1170].

First time offenders may be eligible for probation or a drug diversion program under Prop 36 and Penal Code, Section 1000, instead of incarceration.

At the Johnson Criminal Law Group we have represented many clients charged with Possession of Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine Base. Contact us today.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Drug Fact Sheet, Cocaine.
National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drug Facts:
Wikipedia: Cocaine.
United States Department of Justice, CIA-Contra-Crack-Cocaine Controversy: Appendix C, History of Cocaine.
DEA Museum: Coca.
Narconon International: History of Cocaine,
CNN: Cocaine: the Evolution of the Once “Wonder Drug.”
Wikipedia: Cocaine.

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