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A Drug Dealer? Who, me?

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When most people think of the term "drug dealer" they think of someone who makes their living from selling drugs. However our office receives countless calls from everyday people asking how they have been charged with drug distribution. The way the Wisconsin Statutes are written the answer is: it is easy to be an accidental drug dealer.

The Wisconsin State Statutes states that "it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, distribute or deliver a controlled substance or controlled substance analog", but what does that really mean? Let's break it down. First we need to know what the term controlled substance means. A "controlled substance" can refer to any drug that is illegal, i.e. marijuana, heroin, cocaine, but it can also refer to legal drugs, such as Oxycodone, Valium, Xanax, Adderall or other prescription medications for which you do not have a valid prescription.

¤ The first portion of the statue deals with manufacturing a controlled substance. This means that it is illegal to manufacture or to create the actual drug itself. One example of this would be the production of methamphetamine from cold medicine and other chemicals, or refining marijuana into another product, such as hashish.

¤ The second portion of the statue deals with distributing, which is what most of us think of when we think of drug dealing. In most cases this is exchanging any controlled substance with another individual for money or another controlled substance, however, this is not the only form of distribution. Distribution itself is a purposefully vague terms that encompasses several actions, besides the actual sale of a substance, including giving the controlled substance away for free.

¤ The final part of the statue deals with delivery. This can be similar to actual distribution of the controlled substance, such as if an individual drives across town for the purpose of selling or giving away a controlled substance. In addition to this, simply transporting a controlled substance can be delivering it. Some controlled substances are local but many come from around the state and county, and part of the process of distribution is having the drugs delivered to the individuals that will focus on distributing it. Some examples of this would be if an individual was driving a large amount of a controlled substance, or prepackaged controlled substances, from one location to another. No sale, or even physical exchange need to actually occur for you do have participated in the delivery of a controlled substance.

So how do people become accidental drug dealers? The sad fact of the matter is, through sheer ignorance of the law. Someone who purchases drugs, whether it be marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, and then splits it with a friend, in the eyes of the law, is guilty of drug distribution.

While someone can be charged for drug distribution, that does not necessarily mean that they will have to live with that label and charge for the rest of their life. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may be possible to see those charges amended or even dismissed, with the right legal help. If you find yourself in a situation similar to this, contact a lawyer immediately.

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