A “Conspiracy” is formed when two or more persons are in agreement to commit a crime. In the context of Marijuana, the state will often charge you with Conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, or conspire to defraud the State of Nevada or an agency of the State in connection with its enforcement of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, if two or more persons are involved in violating some underlying offense, such as sale of a controlled substance.
The Uniform Controlled Substances Act, is a state law which is modeled from the United States Department of Justice model act, and has since been adopted by every state in the union in substantially the same form. It is based upon and incorporates some of the terms of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which is a federal statute prescribing federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated. It embodies all of the laws which are associated with controlled substances, including marijuana and/or cannabis. The Act was passed by the 91st United States Congress as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. The Act also served as the national implementing legislation for the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
The legislation created five Schedules (classifications), with varying qualifications for a substance to be included in each. Two federal agencies, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, determine which substances are added to or removed from the various schedules, although the statute passed by Congress created the initial listing. Congress has sometimes scheduled other substances through legislation such as the Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Prevention Act of 2000, which placed gamma hydroxybutyrate in Schedule I. Classification decisions are required to be made on criteria including potential for abuse (an undefined term), currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.
Examples of prohibited activities include knowingly or intentionally: (1) delivering, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance by means of the Internet by an online pharmacy that is not validly registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); (2) writing a prescription for a controlled substance for the purpose of delivery, distribution, or dispensation by means of the Internet; (3) serving as an agent, intermediary, or other entity that causes the Internet to be used to bring together a buyer and seller to engage in such distribution; (4) offering to fill a prescription for a controlled substance based solely on a consumer’s completion of an online medical questionnaire; and (5) making a material false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation on the homepage of Internet sites operated by an online pharmacy regarding the pharmacy’s compliance with federal and state controlled substance laws. 21 U.S.C. 841(h)(2).
Offenses for Conspiracy To Violate Uniform Controlled Substances Act – Marijuana
One of the more common charges associated with serious Marijuana related offenses in Nevada, is Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act pursuant to NRS 453.401.
The elements necessary to prove conspiracy, provide that there was agreement to commit one or more crimes, and that an act was committed in furtherance of those crimes. Mere association with an individual violating the act is insufficient to support the charge of conspiracy. This is often the basis of an effective affirmative defense to conspiracy charges. Often, an individual who has not made an agreement with a conspirator, and has not participated in the conspiracy, is wrongfully charged as a co-conspirator due to his or her association with the actual offenders. However, mere association is generally an effective defense to most drug conspiracy charges.
Penalties for Conspiracy To Violate Uniform Controlled Substances Act – Marijuana
For a first offense on a conviction for Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, the charge is classified as a category C felony, and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 1 to 5 years in the Nevada State Prison and fines may be imposed in an amount of not more than $10,000.
For a second offense on a conviction for Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, the charge is classified as a category B felony, and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 2 to 10 years in the Nevada State Prison and fines may be imposed in an amount of not more than $10,000.
For a third offense on a conviction for Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, the charge is classified as a category B felony, and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 3 to 15 years in the Nevada State Prison and fines may be imposed in an amount of not more than $20,000.
The court will not grant probation to, or suspend the sentence of, a person convicted of Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act on a second or third offense.
Bail amounts on charges of Conspiracy to Violate Uniform Controlled Substances Act depend on the category of felony, but range from $5,000 to ‘No Bail’, where the Court would need to set the bail after the defendant appears to answer the charge.
Defenses to Conspiracy to Violate Uniform Controlled Substances Act
Prosecutors generally include drug conspiracy charges for serious violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. This enables them to present what would otherwise be hearsay evidence which would be inadmissible. However, in conspiracy cases, the prosecutor is able to present statements of each co-defendant as long as they were made during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy.
An offender who has been charged with Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, can assert a plausible defense of withdrawal to conspiracy drug charges. However, to successfully assert a defense of withdrawal, the offender bears the burden to present clear and convincing evidence that some action was made by the offender to depart from the conspiracy, or that the offender disclosed the essential conspiracy to law enforcement.
For example, an offender may use this defense for crimes committed after withdrawal if the offender explicitly communicates that he is abandoning this crime, and does some other act of withdrawal, such as leave or call the police.
As with many marijuana offenses, you may have immunity or an affirmative defense to the charge of Conspiracy if you either have a valid state issued medical marijuana card, or have been diagnosed by a Nevada Physician as being a suitable candidate for the use of medical marijuana for a covered condition within the last year, assuming you were operating within the confines of the license.
If you have been charged with a marijuana related offense, please call us at 702-405-0001 for a free consultation with an attorney.