Updated July 2, 2020
In Colorado, the use or possession of morphine is only legal for individuals with a valid prescription. Anyone who unlawfully uses, sells, or has morphine in their possession is guilty of a criminal offense. Under Colorado drug laws, the penalties for drug possession or sale depends on the amount of morphine found, which may result in misdemeanor or felony drug charges.
In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is morphine?
- 2. What are the legal uses of morphine?
- 3. What are the penalties for the unlawful use of morphine?
- 4. What are the penalties for the unlawful possession of morphine?
- 5. What are the penalties for the unlawful sale or distribution of morphine?
- 6. Can I avoid jail time for a morphine drug charge?
- 7. What are defenses to morphine criminal charges?
Morphine is a naturally occurring substance extracted from a type of poppy plant. Morphine is only legally available with a valid prescription. Morphine is an opiate pain medication that acts on the central nervous system to decrease the sensation of acute or chronic pain. Morphine is commonly administered in medical settings for pain management. Morphine is generally administered orally, by injection under the skin or into a muscle, or intravenously.
Morphine has a high potential for addiction and abuse. Individuals may become addicted to morphine and seek out morphine through illegal channels, or switch to other opioid drugs, such as heroin, Oxycontin, or opium.
Controlled substances include illegal drugs, prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and synthetic drugs. Controlled substances in Colorado are classified by schedule, based on their medically accepted uses and potential for abuse. Morphine is a Schedule II drug, which have a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule II drugs include Vicodin, oxycodone, cocaine, and methamphetamines.1
Morphine is legal to possess and use only with a valid prescription from a licensed practitioner for medical treatment.2 However, an individual with a morphine prescription cannot give or sell their prescription or morphine to another person. Selling or dispensing legally prescribed morphine to another is a criminal offense.
Under Colorado law, the unauthorized use of a controlled substance, including morphine, is a level 2 drug misdemeanor. Under CRS 18-18-404, before March 1, 2020, the penalties for the use of morphine without a prescription include a fine of up to $750 and up to 12 months in jail. However, if it is your first drug offense, you may be eligible for a diversion program to have your charges dismissed if you successfully complete a drug education and treatment program.
Starting March 1, 2020, the punishment is:
- Probation of up to 1 year;
- Possibly 120 days in jail; and
- Up to $500
But for a 3rd or subsequent offense, up to 180 days in jail.
Under Colorado law, the unlawful possession of a schedule II controlled substance, including morphine, is a level 4 drug felony. Under CRS 18-18-403.5, the penalties for possession of morphine without a prescription include from 6 to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. However, if it is your first drug offense, you may be eligible for a diversion program to place you on probation instead of serving time in jail. Upon successful completion of a court-approved drug treatment program, you may be able to have your charges reduced to a misdemeanor.
Under Colorado law, the unlawful sale or possession for sale of a schedule II controlled substance, including morphine, is a felony. Under CRS 18-18-405, the penalties for sale or distribution of morphine depends on the amount of morphine and any material, compound or mixture involved.
|Amount of Morphine||Not more than 14 grams||More than 14 grams, but not more than 225 grams||More than 225 grams|
|Drug Felony Level||Level 3 Drug Felony||Level 2 Drug Felony||Level 1 Drug Felony|
|Prison Time||2 to 4 Years||4 to 8 Years||8 to 32 Years|
|Fines||$2,000 to $500,000||$3,000 to $750,000||$5,000 to $1 million|
It is also a level 1 drug felony to sell, dispense, or distribute any morphine to a minor who is at least two years younger than you.
If you are incarcerated, on parole or on probation for a prior felony, a conviction for selling morphine may result in aggravated drug sentencing with increased penalties.
Simple use of morphine may only result in a misdemeanor drug charge. A level 2 drug misdemeanor has the potential for jail time; however, in most cases, you will only have to pay a simple fine and can avoid jail time.
If it is your first offense for unlawful morphine use or possession, you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program.3 You can complete a court-approved treatment program while your trial is delayed. Upon successful completion, you may have your misdemeanor drug charges dropped. If charged with a low-level drug felony, you may be placed on probation while you complete a court-approved drug treatment and education program. Upon successful completion, you may have your felony drug charges reduced to misdemeanor drug possession.4
However, you may not be eligible for a diversion program or sentencing reduction if you have a prior conviction for a crime of violence, two or more prior felony drug convictions, or are ineligible for probation because of prior offenses. You may also be ineligible if you were in possession of more than 4 grams or morphine.
There are a number of possible defenses to criminal charges for morphine possession or sale. Common drug crime defenses include:
- The morphine belonged to someone else
- You had a valid prescription for morphine
- The morphine was not in an area within your control
- The police found morphine as part of an unlawful search or seizure
For additional help…
If you were arrested for possession or sale of morphine, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with criminal drug offenses.
- C.R.S. 18-18-204(2)(a)(I)(M)
- C.R.S. 18-18-308
- C.R.S. 18-1.3-101
- C.R.S. 18-1.3-102