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What are the legal consequences of opioid abuse?

The abuse of opium and related narcotic drugs has been a cultural issue in the western world since the mid-1800s when they were brought into the British Empire via trade with Asian nations. In more recent years, however, the availability of prescription drugs has caused the amount of opioid abuse to rise sharply.

In large part, the recent rise in opioid abuse has been attributed to the prevalence of narcotics that are prescribed to medical patients. Patients are prescribed opioids for medical issues, but they become addicted to the medication.

Once they can no long get prescribed the drugs, many patients move onto street narcotics like heroin. While the negative impact these drugs can have on a person's health is generally apparent, the potential legal impact is less well-known.

Opioid basics

Under current United States law, opioids are considered to be Schedule II drugs. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule II drugs are defined as "drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence."

However, opioids and related substances are legally considered to have medical value and as such are often used in the treatment of medical issues. The potential for addiction is very high though and it is not at all uncommon for patients to become addicted to these drugs.

Legal penalties

In the state of Maryland, the illegal possession of any controlled substance is a misdemeanor (it should be noted that marijuana is treated differently that other controlled substances).

· Possession - The possession of a controlled substance can result in a maximum penalty of up to 4 years in prison and/or and fine of up to $25,000.

· Distribution - Bringing a controlled substance into the state of Maryland is a felony that can result in up to 25 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

· Additional offenses - If an individual is found to commit one of these crimes more than once, the penalties can be doubled.

Law reform

Maryland government officials have recently taken action to change the way opioid abuse is treated in the state. The goal of these initiatives is to treat opioid addiction and abuse as a public health issue and to provide users with the care they need to recover.

Even so, a drug-related conviction can have serious long-term consequences in a person's life and should not be taken lightly. If you are confronting such an issue, it is highly suggested that you seek out and obtain the services of a legal professional who is experienced in this area of the law.

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