What Is a Controlled Substance in Minnesota?

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Andrew, Bransky, & Poole, P.A.


Drug Crimes

What Is a Controlled Substance in Minnesota?

Minnesota is no different from every other state in the U.S. in that it has laws surrounding the possession, manufacture, and sale of controlled substances. The laws in Minnesota break these substances up into different schedules. They base penalties on those different drug schedules.

The sentencing guidelines in the state vary by degree as well, with a first-degree offense as the most serious—and a fifth-degree offense as the least. But be aware that even small amounts of drugs can sometimes set a person up for some harsh sentencing.

The drug laws in Minnesota can be complex. Here’s what you need to know about what Minnesota considers controlled substances and the penalties that can be faced for violating the laws surrounding them.

What Are Controlled Substances in Minnesota?

Minnesota considers certain drugs to be controlled substances, which means that their possession, use, sale, and distribution are either tightly controlled by authorities or completely illegal. Drugs that Minnesota classifies as controlled substances include:

  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines
  • Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana or THC products
  • Narcotics such as prescription medications containing opiates or benzodiazepine
  • PCP

The type of charges a person can face in Minnesota under controlled substance laws depends on the type of drug involved, how much someone had, and if they were possessing it for personal use or attempting to sell it – or even manufacture it.

Penalties for Breaking Controlled Substance Laws

As mentioned, Minnesota has five degrees of charges and penalties for various crimes associated with controlled substances. They are:

First Degree

This is the most serious degree of crimes involving controlled substances in Minnesota. They encompass both the sale and possession of controlled substances as well as manufacturing methamphetamines.

The charges and their associated penalties are:

  • First-degree sale of a controlled substance – If you possess certain amounts of controlled substances, then you can be charged with this crime. For example, 17 grams of methamphetamine or cocaine for sale can result in this charge.
  • First-degree possession – You must meet a minimum possession threshold for each type of drug to be charged with this level. For example, possessing 50 grams of methamphetamine will result in this charge.

The penalties for first-degree drug crimes include as many as 30 years in prison and a fine of as much as $1 million. There is a minimum mandatory sentence one must serve of four years.

Second Degree

Just as with first-degree controlled substance crimes, the amount you have for sale or in your possession establishes the charges against you. Having three grams of heroin or 17 grams of cocaine for sale can result in this charge while possessing six grams of heroin or 25 grams of cocaine can also get a person charged with this.

The penalties for this level are as many as 25 years incarceration and fines of as much as $500,000.

Third Degree

Third-degree controlled substance crimes can result in as many as 20 years behind bars and fines of as much as $250,000.

Fourth Degree

A controlled substance crime at this level will result in as many as 15 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.

Fifth Degree

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A fifth-degree charge can result in penalties of as much as five years behind bars and fines of as much as $10,000.

As you can see, Minnesota crimes involving controlled substances are based heavily on what drugs you either have in your possession for personal use or plan to sell. The most serious crimes can put you away for a long time, which makes it even more crucial to understand your rights.

About the Author:

Andrew T. Poole is a Minnesota native who has served in the Army for more than 18 years and is currently a JAG lawyer in the Army Reserves in addition to serving as a partner at LaCourse, Poole & Envall. He has handled thousands of criminal and family law cases over the course of his career and has a firm belief that all hardworking Minnesotans should be entitled to the best possible legal counsel. Mr. Poole boasts a 10/10 Superb rating on Avvo, is Lead Counsel rated, and has been recognized multiple times by SuperLawyers, National Trial Lawyers, and others for his work.


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The legal team at Andrew, Bransky & Poole, P.A. consists of Timothy Andrew, Aaron Bransky, Jane C. Poole, and Andrew T. Poole.

Timothy Andrew and Jane C. Poole handle union labor law and employee benefit matters. Tim has been practicing law in Minnesota since 1992 and focuses on Northeastern Minnesota. Super Lawyers Magazine has recognized Tim. Jane has been practicing since 2010 and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota. Jane has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine for many consecutive years.

Aaron Bransky has been practicing law since 1989, and before that, he clerked for two federal judges, so he has seen the law from several perspectives. His specialties encompass many practice areas, including estate planning, elder law, medical assistance planning, probate, business, and real estate. He is your go-to at the firm if you have needs in any of these areas. Aaron has been recognized many times as a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Since 2010, Andrew T. Poole has been a practicing attorney in Duluth, Minnesota. Over that time, he has handled thousands of criminal cases, ranging from DWI charges to theft, sex crimes, drug crimes, murder, and more. He understands the importance of building a defense strategy as soon as possible, fighting to ensure your rights are protected, and ensuring no corners are cut by law enforcement. He has represented defendants in jury trials in both Minnesota and Wisconsin courts, including every courthouse along Minnesota’s North Shore. Andrew has been recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine for many consecutive years.