Colorado Laws on PCP (Phencyclidine)

pile of off-white powder on dark background

Use, possession or sale of PCP (Angel Dust) in Colorado

Possession or sale of phencyclidine – more commonly known as PCP -- is a felony in Colorado.  PCP is classified as a hallucinogen, although structurally it is similar to the anesthetic ketamine.

Because it is seldom used medically in the United States and is highly addictive, PCP is classified as a Colorado Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II drugs are those the government believes:

  • Have a high potential for abuse;
  • Have currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions; and
  • Abuse of which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Thus the use of PCP is highly regulated both in Colorado and the United States generally.

Colorado PCP penalties

Use of PCP is a misdemeanor in Colorado. Punishment for PCP use does not include jail time. It can be punished solely by a fine of $50-$750 and a drug offender surcharge of $600.

The unlawful possession of PCP is, however, a Colorado drug felony.

Penalties for PCP possession in Colorado can include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail, and/or
  • A fine of up to $100,000, plus
  • A drug offender surcharge of $1,500.

And finally, if you are charged with possession for sale, sale, or manufacture of PCP, the potential consequences include prison time and/or a significant fine, both of which vary depending on the quantity involved as follows:

Quantity of PCP

Possible penalty

> 225 grams

8 – 32 years, and/or

$5,000 - $1,000,000

> 14 grams, but < 225 grams

4 – 8 years, and/or

$3,000 - $750,000

≤ 14 grams

2 – 4 years, and/or

$2,000 - $500,000

≤ 4 grams*

6 mos. – 1 yr., and/or

$1,000 - $100,000

*If intended for immediate use

  by transferor & transferee

 

You can also be punished by up to 32 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000,000 if you sell or intend to sell any quantity of PCP to a minor who is two years or more younger than you.

Additionally, there is a drug offender surcharge for people convicted of Colorado drug offenses. The surcharge on sale, manufacture or possession for sale charges is anywhere from $1,500 - $4,500, depending on the severity of the offense.

Drug treatment instead of prison

If you are charged with possession of PCP, or with giving not more than 4 grams of it to someone else to share with them more or less immediately, you may be eligible for drug treatment instead of a fine and/or incarceration.

You are not eligible for drug diversion (treatment) if you are not eligible for probation generally or if you have more than one prior felony drug conviction (including a felony reduced to a misdemeanor).

Once you successfully complete a court-approved drug treatment program, and provided you do not violate any terms of your probation, your felony possession charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor. You will not face the usual collateral consequences of a felony conviction. Perhaps most importantly, you will not to have to disclose it on most job applications that ask if you have ever been convicted of a felony.

Defending Colorado PCP charges

Because possession of even a small amount of PCP can lead to a felony drug conviction, it is important to start fighting PCP charges as soon as you are charged.

If you are simply a casual PCP user or an addict, the courts will, assuming you quality, offer you the option to get drug treatment. Even so, it can help to have a lawyer argue for the least restrictive possible terms of probation.

And if you are charged with possession for sale, or with sale or manufacturing of PCP, you are likely looking at a vigorous prosecution.

That's why retaining a skilled Colorado drug defense lawyer as soon as possible is critical. Although the best defense for your Colorado PCP charges will depend on the circumstances, common defenses often include (without limitation):

  • The PCP wasn't yours;
  • You didn't know you possessed the PCP;
  • You knew you had a drug, but you thought it was something innocent (such as headache or diet medication);
  • The PCP was for your personal use only;
  • The drugs were found during an illegal search; or
  • The police engaged in misconduct (entrapment, coercion, falsified evidence, etc.).

To help you better understand Colorado's laws on PCP use, possession, manufacture and sale, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

close-up of mouth and hands of woman smoking a joint

1. What is PCP?

PCP (phencyclidine) is a hallucinogen sometimes referred to as Angel Dust, PeaCe Pill, Hog, Lovely, Wack, Ozone, Dust, Embalming Fluid, or Rocket Fuel. When combined with marijuana, it may have a name such as Super Grass or Killer Joint.

Phencyclidine was developed in the 1950s as an intravenous anesthetic. However, as a result of significant side effects – including hallucinations, delirium, and mania – medical use in humans was discontinued in the 1960s.

In its pure form, PCP is a bitter, white crystalline powder that readily dissolves in water or alcohol. However, PCP purchased illegally often contains contaminants which darken the color to beige or brown and give it a powdery or gummy consistency.

Recreational users can purchase it in the form of tablets, capsules, or colored powders, which can be taken orally, injected, or sniffed. There is also a liquid form of the drug consisting of PCP dissolved in ether, a highly flammable solvent. This is often sprayed on marijuana or leafy herbs and smoked.

Due to its dangerous effects, many experts consider PCP one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse. In moderate amounts, such effects can include:

  • Sense of detachment,
  • Numbness of the extremities, 
  • Slurred speech,
  • Loss of coordination,
  • Sense of strength and invulnerability,
  • Blank stare,
  • Rapid and involuntary eye movements,
  • Increase in pulse rate and blood pressure,
  • Shallow breathing,
  • Flushing and/or sweating,
  • Exaggerated gait,
  • Auditory hallucinations, 
  • Image distortion, 
  • Mood disorders, 
  • Anxiety (including a sense of impending doom),
  • Paranoia,
  • Hostility, and
  • Amnesia.

At high doses PCP can cause more severe hallucinations, seizures, psychosis, coma, or death (usually from accidental injury or suicide).

Long-term use of PCP can lead to memory loss, difficulties with speech and learning, depression, and weight loss. Such symptoms can last for up to a year after discontinuing use.

2. Unlawful use of PCP --- Colorado 18-18-404 C.R.S.

As a Schedule 2 drug, PCP has limited medical use in the United States. However, the state of Colorado prefers drug abuse prevention to incarceration, at least for casual users or first- or second-time offenders who don't engage in sales.

Simply using PCP is a Colorado level 2 drug misdemeanor rather than a felony. However, generally this means using someone else's PCP (or getting a prosecutor to agree to charge you solely for use), since possessing any amount of PCP is a felony charge.

There is no jail time for a conviction for PCP use in Colorado. Use of PCP can be punished solely by a fine of $50-$750, plus a drug offender surcharge of $600.

3. Possession of PCP -- Colorado 18-18-403.5 C.R.S.

Section 18-18-403.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) makes it a class 4 drug felony to knowingly possess PCP.

You knowingly possess PCP when you are aware that you have it and you know that what you have is a controlled substance -- even if you don't know that it is specifically phencyclidine.

PCP possession is a so-called “wobbler” crime in Colorado. This means you can be convicted of this crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on whether you are eligible for and successfully complete drug diversion (treatment), as discussed below.

If you are convicted of PCP possession as a felony, consequences can include:

  • 6-12 months in prison (plus 1 year of parole), and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000, plus
  • A drug offender surcharge of $1,500.

If, however, you are subject to Colorado's aggravating drug felony sentencing, the court must sentence you to at least 9 months in prison, with a maximum possible sentence of 2 years. Reasons for aggravated sentencing include (without limitation) committing a PCP-related felony while incarcerated or on parole for another felony.

For a more complete discussion of reasons for aggravated sentencing, please see our article on Colorado's aggravated felony drug sentencing.

4. Unlawful sale, manufacture or possession for sale of PCP -- Colorado 18-18-405 C.R.S

18-18-405 C.R.S. makes it a felony to sell, possess for sale, manufacture, distribute, or dispense PCP unlawfully. It also makes it a felony to induce, attempt to induce, or conspire with one or more other persons to do any of the foregoing, or to possess one or more chemicals or supplies or equipment with the intent to manufacture PCP.

Consequences of doing any of the above acts vary depending on:

  • The quantity of PCP involved, and
  • The age of the person you sell or intend to sell to.

4.1. More than 225 grams or sale to a minor

Selling or manufacturing PCP or possessing it for sale is a Colorado level 1 drug felony when:

  • Any material, compound, mixture, or preparation containing PCP weighs more than 225 grams (just under 8 ounces), or
  • You are an adult and the offense involves any quantity of PCP and a minor who is at least two years younger than you.

Consequences of a Colorado level 1 felony involving PCP can include:

  • 8-32 years in prison (with a minimum of 8 years mandatory and 3 years mandatory parole),
  • A potential fine of $5,000-$1,000,000, and
  • A $4,500 drug offender surcharge.

In the aggravated felony drug sentencing range, penalties include a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 12 years.

4.2. More than 14 grams, but less than 225 grams

Doing any of the above-listed acts with PCP is a Colorado level 2 drug felony if the substance involved weighs more than 7 grams, but not more than 112 grams.

As a Colorado level 2 drug felony, the sale, manufacture or possession for sale of PCP carries potential punishment of:

  • 4-8 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $3,000-$750,000, plus
  • A drug offender surcharge of $3,000.

In the aggravated range, level 2 drug offenders must receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 8 years in prison and may be kept in prison for as much as 16 years.

4.3. Not more than 14 grams

You commit a level 3 drug felony when you sell, manufacture or possess for sale anything containing PCP and weighing not more than 7 grams.

Penalties for a level 3 drug felony can include:

  • 2-4 years in prison (with 1 year mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $2,000-$500,000, plus
  • A drug offender surcharge of $2,000.

If you are subject to the aggravated sentencing range for a drug felony, however, a level 3 offense can be punished by 4-6 years in prison.

4.4. 4 grams or less for immediate personal use

It is a Colorado level 4 drug felony to sell or give not more than 4 grams of a substance containing PCP to someone else for the purpose of consuming all of it substantially contemporaneously with the transfer.

Consequences of a Colorado level 4 drug felony involving PCP can include:

  • Incarceration of 6 months to one year (with 1 year mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000, plus
  • A drug offender surcharge of $1,500.

In the aggravated range, Colorado level 4 drug felonies can be punished by 1-2 years in prison, along with a fine and surcharge.

5. Drug diversion and reduction of felony PCP charges to a misdemeanor

If you are convicted of a level 4 drug felony involving PCP, you may be eligible for drug treatment and reduction of your felony offense to a misdemeanor possession charge. To be eligible, the offense must have been for possession, or transfer of not more than 4 grams of PCP for the purpose of substantially simultaneous consumption of all of it with another person or other persons.

You are not eligible for drug diversion if:

  • You are ineligible for probation generally under 18-1.3-201 C.R.S., or
  • You have two or more prior convictions for a drug felony under the laws of Colorado or any other state or under federal law,. This includes juvenile crimes that would have been felonies if committed by an adult.

If you are offered and accept drug diversion, your charges will be reduced to misdemeanor possession, as long as:

  • You successfully complete a court-approve drug treatment program, and 
  • You do not violate any conditions of your probation, including, as applicable that:
    • You do not use drugs without a doctor's prescription or advice (and no medical marijuana use regardless); 
    • You regularly attend and complete a court-approved drug treatment program;
    • You do not commit any crimes while on probation; and/or
    • You comply with any other terms or conditions the court feels would be in your or the public's best interests. Such terms may include domestic violence restraints and drug testing (at your own expense).

6. Defending Colorado PCP charges

The best defense to Colorado PCP charges depends on the specific charges and facts of your case. However, defenses our Colorado drug defense lawyers often make use of include (without limitation):

  • It was someone else's PCP;
  • You didn't know you had any PCP;
  • You knew you had what turned out to be PCP, but you didn't know that what you had was actually a controlled substance;
  • The PCP was for your personal use (not sale);
  • You transferred a small amount of PCP to someone else for the purpose of consuming it with them;
  • You only had trace amounts of PCP which were not enough to use as a drug;
  • There was less PCP than the prosecutor claims (partial defense);
  • The police found the PCP during a Colorado illegal search and seizure or otherwise violated your rights through police misconduct.

Call us for help…

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PCP carries a stigma possessed by few other drugs. But our compassionate Colorado PCP defense lawyers understand that people accused of PCP use deserve the benefit of the doubt.

If you have been charged with using, possessing, manufacturing or selling PCP or another Colorado controlled substance, we will fight to get your charges dismissed or reduced, and, if necessary, make sure you receive the treatment you need.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our Colorado drug defense attorneys, simply fill out the confidential form on this page.

Or call us at our centrally located Denver home office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
720-955-6112

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