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DEA Registration Defense and Enforcement Actions

April 8, 2022 Uncategorized

The DEA has a wide array of enforcement tools at its disposal. It can use these tools to pursue civil and criminal penalties. The DEA can also refer cases to state licensing boards for disciplinary actions.

What Are the Penalties for Violating Federal Drug Laws?

The penalties for violating federal drug laws depend on the type of drug involved, the amount of drug involved, and whether the defendant has any prior convictions. For example, a first-time offender convicted of possessing one gram of heroin with intent to distribute faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. A second-time offender convicted of possessing one gram of heroin with intent to distribute faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In order to dispense controlled substances, pharmacies must be registered with the DEA. Pharmacies that are not registered with the DEA cannot dispense controlled substances.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was enacted in 1970 and is the legal framework through which the United States regulates drugs that have a potential for abuse. The CSA is codified as Title 21 of the United States Code (U.S.C.).

The CSA places all substances which were in some manner regulated under existing federal law into one of five schedules. This placement is based upon the substance’s medical use, potential for abuse, and safety or dependence liability. The five schedules created by this act are known as I (one), II (two), III (three), IV (four), and V (five).

Schedule I drugs are those that have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Examples of Schedule I drugs include, but are not limited to:

  • heroin
  • LSD
  • marijuana (cannabis)
  • ecstasy (MDMA)
  • peyote (mescaline)

Schedule II drugs are those that have a high potential for abuse, have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the drug may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Examples of Schedule II drugs include, but are not limited to:

  • cocaine
  • methamphetamine (“crystal meth”)
  • methadone
  • oxycodone (OxyContin)

Defending Your DEA Registration

The DEA has the authority to investigate and take action against pharmacies, medical providers and other entities that are involved in the distribution of controlled substances. The agency can also take action against individual practitioners who violate federal laws related to controlled substances.

If you are facing a DEA investigation or enforcement actions, we will work diligently to protect your interests. We will thoroughly review your case and help you understand your legal options. If necessary, we can represent you at administrative hearings before the DEA or other state licensing boards. Our goal is always to help our clients resolve their cases in a way that minimizes negative consequences for their careers and professional licenses.

The type of enforcement action taken depends on the severity of the violation and may range from a warning letter to revocation of registration.

Warning Letter: A warning letter is the least severe type of enforcement action. The DEA may issue a warning letter to a registrant who has violated the Controlled Substances Act or DEA regulations. A warning letter puts the registrant on notice that future violations may result in more serious penalties, such as suspension or revocation of registration.

Suspension: A suspension is a temporary withdrawal of a registrant’s authority to dispense controlled substances. A suspension may be imposed when there is evidence that a registrant has violated the Controlled Substances Act or DEA regulations, and such violations pose a threat to public health and safety. A suspension may be imposed immediately, without prior notice or hearing, if the DEA determines that there is an imminent danger to public health or safety.

Revocation: Revocation is the permanent withdrawal of a registrant’s authority to dispense controlled substances. Revocation may be imposed when there is evidence that a registrant has committed serious violations of the Controlled Substances Act or DEA regulations, or when a registrant has repeatedly violated these laws and regulations.

Cancellation: Cancellation is the voluntary surrender of a registrant’s authority to dispense controlled substances. A registrant may choose to cancel their registration for any reason at any time.

What Happens if My Registration is Suspended or Revoked?
If your registration is suspended, you will no longer be able to dispense controlled substances. If your registration is revoked, you will no longer be able to dispense controlled substances and you will be required to surrender your DEA registration certificate.

Appealing a DEA Enforcement Action
If you receive a notice of suspension or revocation from the DEA, you may file a request for hearing within 30 days of the date of the notice. The request for hearing must be in writing and must be sent to the address specified in the notice.

A hearing will be held before an administrative law judge, who will consider evidence and testimony from both sides. After the hearing, the administrative law judge will issue a decision. If the decision is in favor of the DEA, the suspension or revocation of your registration will become final. If the decision is in favor of the registrant, the registration will be reinstated.

The administrative law judge’s decision may be appealed to the DEA Administrator. The Administrator’s decision is final.

What Are the Penalties for Violating the Controlled Substances Act?
The penalties for violating the Controlled Substances Act depend on the type and amount of controlled substance involved, as well as the offender’s prior criminal history.

Possession of a controlled substance is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Trafficking in a controlled substance is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

If you are convicted of violating the Controlled Substances Act, you may also be required to surrender your DEA registration certificate.

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