If a controlled substance is distributed in violation of federal law by a person who is at least 18 years old, more severe penalties can be imposed if the recipient of the drug is under the age of 21. Those enhanced penalties also apply if controlled substances are distributed, or possessed with intent to distribute, within 1,000 feet of:

  • A public or private elementary, vocational, or secondary school;
  • A public or private college, junior college, or university;
  • A playground;
  • A housing facility owned by a public housing authority;
  • A public or private youth center;
  • A public swimming pool;
  • A video arcade facility;
  • A truck stop; or
  • A highway rest area.

Drug Distribution Penalties

The penalties for distributing to young people or in a protected area depend upon whether the defendant has a prior conviction for the same offense. In addition to a possible prison sentence, fines and costs can be imposed as well as a term of supervised release.

First offense

For a first offense, the penalties are:

  • Twice the maximum that would otherwise apply to the offense;
  •  mandatory minimum sentence of one year unless the offense carries a longer mandatory minimum sentence (the mandatory minimum does not apply to the distribution of less than 5 grams of marijuana to a person under the age of 21 and it does not apply to the offense of distribution near a truck stop or highway rest area); and
  • Twice the term of supervised release that would otherwise apply to the offense.

Second offense

If the defendant has a prior conviction for the same offense, the penalties are:

Three times the maximum that would otherwise apply to the offense;

  • A mandatory minimum sentence of one year unless the offense carries a longer mandatory minimum sentence (does not apply to distribution near a truck stop or highway rest area); and
  • Three times the term of supervised release that would otherwise apply to the offense.

The maximums that apply to the offense before they are doubled or tripled depend upon the specific controlled substance and the quantity involved.