Serving Indiana Since 1994

Possessing drug precursors – When is it a crime?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Contrary to what some might think about manufacturing illegal controlled substances, their creation is like the processes used for prescription drugs and the like. Many illicit drugs are also easily synthesized with the same materials used to produce legitimate pharmaceuticals or other products like cosmetics and perfumes.

Called drug precursors, possessing these chemicals isn’t always a crime. But Indiana has strict laws about having certain amounts of these chemicals.

What are drug precursors?

Many substances count as drug precursors under Indiana law. They include:

  • Ephedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Phenylpropanolamine
  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • Ether
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Benzaldehyde
  • White phosphorus
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Ethyl acetate

Possession of these substances of a certain amount is punishable by law.

Penalties for drug precursor offenses

Per Indiana law, anyone possessing two or more precursors intending to manufacture a controlled substance can face a Level 6 felony charge.

There are also rules specific to certain drug precursors. Anyone with over 10 grams of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine commits a Level 6 felony. It becomes a Level 5 felony if the offender also possessed a firearm at the time of the offense or possessed the chemicals while within 500 feet of a school or public park.

Likewise, it’s a Level 6 felony to possess anhydrous ammonia or ammonia solution with the purpose of manufacturing meth. It also becomes a Level 5 felony if the offender possesses a firearm or was arrested within 500 feet of a school or public park.

A Level 6 felony conviction leads to up to 2 and a half years in prison and as much as $10,000 in fines. Meanwhile, a Level 5 felony conviction carries a maximum six-year prison sentence and as much as $10,000 in fines.

Dumping precursor waste is also a crime

Indiana also prohibits the dumping, discharge or transport of chemical byproducts or waste of illegal drug manufacturing. The state’s law also applies to the dumping of byproducts used in the creation of precursors. This offense is a Level 6 felony, and a conviction will result in the same penalties as possession of a drug precursor.

Possessing a drug precursor in Indiana is a crime, in the same way that it’s a crime to possess the actual manufactured substance. Because some of these substances have legitimate medicinal or household use, it can be easy for an innocent person to face charges for suspected drug precursor offenses. Those who face charges should consider discussing their case with a legal professional to understand their options in court.