Manufacturing/cultivating and trafficking drugs are two of the most serious drug-related offenses in Minnesota with potentially harsh criminal penalties. The drug trade costs as much as $321 billion annually, thus making this a salient state and federal issue.
Typically charged as a felony, pursuant to Minnesota law, drug manufacturing/cultivating is defined simply as the creation of illegal drugs or other controlled substances in a lab or growing facility. Possessing ingredients and other materials that are used to manufacture drugs is also illegal. Trafficking, on the other hand typically relies on the quantity of drugs and the defendant’s intent to sell. Additionally, possessing large amounts of drugs and/or cash at the time of the arrest are more indicative of the harsher trafficking charge.
In Minnesota, all drug manufacturing and trafficking offenses are charged as felonies excepting cultivation of small amounts of marijuana.
Manufacturing drugs is being involved in any step of the illegal production process such as selling chemicals or specialized equipment or even simply assisting someone else’s production. The specific elements of the crime of manufacturing—or even intent to manufacture—illegal drugs are possession and the intent to manufacture. Both of these elements must be present for a successful conviction.
Similarly, drug cultivation involves:
- Growing, producing, making, harvesting, or possessing plants and/or other natural elements used to create illicit controlled substances and/or;
- Producing illegal controlled substances that require chemicals and other laboratory equipment in order to create, such as methamphetamine.
Even if no drugs are present, a person can be charged simply by being in possession of the supplies used to make drugs such as certain chemicals, cannabis seeds, and grow lamps, for example. In some cases, an innocent person may be in possession of certain chemicals and/or other materials commonly used for drug cultivation such as anhydrous ammonia (common in fertilizer) or pseudoephedrine (a common decongestant).
Despite medical marijuana being legal in Minnesota, unauthorized cultivation of marijuana is still a criminal offense, and manufacturing large quantities of marijuana may lead to similarly long prison sentences and huge fines. Even though most state drug manufacturing laws align with federal laws, with respect to marijuana, whereas the federal government does not differentiate marijuana cultivation with the manufacture of other Schedule I drugs, for those states that have legalized marijuana, the federal government typically has a “hands-off” policy.
Trafficking involves the manufacture or cultivation, sale, and distribution of large amounts of illicit drugs across both state and international boundaries. The key here is the weight of the drugs involved which can bump up sale to trafficking.
Pursuant to both Minnesota state laws and federal laws, drug trafficking is a serious crime. So what is drug trafficking? It is considered or defined as the selling, transporting, importing and/or manufacturing of illegal controlled substances. The resulting penalty varies depending on both the amount and type of the controlled substance in question. Also, if minors/children were either the focus of the sale or simply present during the sale or manufacturing, the resulting penalties can be increased.
In Minnesota, a person can be charged with first-degree trafficking for:
- Possessing 25 grams of heroin, cocaine, or meth
- Possessing 100 kilograms of marijuana
- Possessing 500 grams of all other narcotics
- Selling 200 doses of a hallucinogen
- Selling 50 grams of heroin, cocaine, or meth
- Selling 50 kilograms of marijuana
- Manufacturing any amount of methamphetamine
Drug manufacturing and cultivation in Minnesota carries mandatory minimum prison sentences. Hefty fines and property seizure may also occur. In order to determine criminal punishment, the court looks at the type and amount of drug manufactured and/or the defendant’s prior drug-related criminal history.
As mentioned, drug manufacturing is one of the most serious of the drug-related offenses in the state. If convicted, a person can expect to serve 15-to-30 years in prison along with fines ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. Penalty enhancements may be added if the drugs were manufactured in certain areas like near a school or playground.
Not unlike the hefty penalties for manufacturing, sentencing for drug trafficking relies on the type and quantity of drugs, whether the defendant has prior drug-related crimes, and whether any aggravating factors—such as using a firearm and/or causing bodily injury or death—exist.
Additionally, depending on the quantity of drugs, federal charges can apply. At the federal level, if convicted of trafficking one could serve from five years (mandatory minimum) to 40 years in federal prison. If death or serious injury occurred, the sentence could be from a 20-year mandatory minimum up to life in prison. Fines for drug trafficking are also hefty, ranging from $2 million to $5 million.