If you are caught illegally possessing ecstasy, you could face a series of legal consequences including arrest, jail time, a life-long criminal record and financial penalties.

Possession of 3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine (MDMA), also known as ecstasy, in any form is illegal. Individuals caught with ecstasy in their possession will face penalties such as arrest, acquiring life-long criminal records, driver’s license suspension, and other legal and financial repercussions.

Ecstasy (MDMA) is a synthetic stimulant and hallucinogen hybrid drug with psychoactive, euphoric and addictive qualities. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies ecstasy as a Schedule I narcotic, which means it has no accepted medical use and the highest potential for misuse, psychological and physical dependence and addiction. Criminal penalties associated with the possession and distribution of Schedule I controlled substances are determined by the amount of the substance in an individual’s possession and varies by state. Possession of Schedule I controlled substances, such as ecstasy, are illegal throughout the United States.

Crimes Associated with Ecstasy

All forms and quantities of ecstasy are illegal due to ecstasy’s status as an illicit controlled substance. The use, possession, distribution, sale, and trafficking of ecstasy are unlawful offenses that carry varying degrees of penalties.

State-level charges for ecstasy range from misdemeanors for small amounts, to felony offenses for large amounts. The primary factors that determine the severity of these penalties are the quantity of ecstasy in one’s possession, how the substance came into possession and the intent of possession. Misdemeanor charges often result in fines, short periods of incarceration, and periods of probation. Felony offenses could result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Certain offenses, such as trafficking, violate the Federal Controlled Substances Act for Schedule I substances and are subject to federal prosecution. Trafficking violations of ecstasy and other Schedule I controlled substances are felony offenses which carry a financial penalty of between $1 million and $5 million, and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Repeat offenses can lead to additional financial penalties of between $2 and $10 million, alongside up to 30 additional years in federal prison.

Legality of Possessing Ecstasy

As a Schedule I controlled substance, there is no form of legal ecstasy possession in the United States. Unlike Schedule II, or other controlled substances, ecstasy has no accepted medical value. As a result, the possession, distribution, manufacturing, trafficking or any other interaction with ecstasy is a criminal offense in every state of the United States of America.

As with all Schedule I controlled substances, if caught with ecstasy, an individual is likely to face state misdemeanor, felony or federal felony charges, with several serious legal and financial consequences.

Amount of Ecstasy Possessed

Ecstasy possession in any quantity is illegal at both the state and federal level; however, the severity of state-level charges and penalties against an individual in possession of ecstasy is likely to change based on the amount of ecstasy he or she possesses.

In the state of New York, for example, possession of less than 25mg of ecstasy is a Class A misdemeanor, criminal possession in the seventh degree, which can result in financial penalties of up to $1,000, a mandatory probationary period of up to three years in length, drug treatment and testing conditions and a maximum of one year in jail. Possession of 25mg or more of ecstasy is prosecuted as a Class C felony, known as criminal possession in the fourth degree, which is punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and between one and five-and-a-half years in prison for first-time offenders (with increased penalties for repeat offenders). An individual caught in possession of 5 grams of ecstasy or more, is classified as criminal possession in the third degree, a Class B felony, with a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000. Possession of at least 25 grams of ecstasy is classified and prosecuted as a Class A-II felony, criminal possession in the second degree, with penalties of up to $50,000 in fines and a minimum prison sentence between three and 10 years.

At the federal level, the same standard for drug-related penalties does not exist. Instead, federal offenses related to ecstasy possession are primarily determined by the nature of the criminal act and the individual’s criminal history.

It is essential to consult with an attorney regarding your state’s specific laws, as the statutory penalties for the use, possession, and distribution of controlled substances vary greatly by state

Previous Criminal History

A person’s criminal history can have a strong determinative effect on the severity of the legal and financial repercussions they face if caught with ecstasy in their possession.

Individuals with a history of drug convictions will face increased penalties for each respective charge, likely to be far in excess of those faced by first-time offenders. In addition to increased penalties based on prior drug convictions, individuals with prior violent felony offense will also face steeper sentences in certain states.

This scenario is the case in California, where individuals who have previously been convicted of serious felonies or sex crimes are charged with the misdemeanor offense of “simple possession” of ecstasy, will be subjected to felony penalties of up to three years in prison, rather than the typical maximum of one year in county jail.

At the federal level, an individual’s relative criminal history has a compounding effect on the sentencing in ecstasy possession cases. A first conviction for any amount of ecstasy possession carries a minimum $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail, while repeat offenders will face a minimum $2,500 fine and a two-year jail sentence, which doubles for every additional prior conviction.

Each state enforces penalties based on an individual’s criminal history and repeat offenses differently. As such, an individual should always consult a qualified and knowledgeable attorney to understand their state’s specific laws.

Court Appointed Rehab

Many states offer individuals with outstanding drug charges reduced sentences or complete dismissal of charges as part of drug court pretrial intervention programs. These programs exist to assist those charged with drug-related crimes, likely to be suffering from substance use disorders, with avoiding punitive justice system outcomes and receiving the necessary treatment to prevent future arrests and convictions.

The first state to adopt pretrial intervention programs for non-violent drug offenders was the state of Florida. As part of these programs, the state offers pretrial intervention programs to any first-time, non-violent misdemeanor or felony offender. Individuals charged with drug-related crimes will be offered deferred prosecution agreements by the state, in which (in exchange for voluntary enrollment) they will receive counseling, education, supervision and additional medical and psychological treatment. Following the completion of all conditions of their agreement, the state will dismiss all charges against the individual.

These programs are widely regarded by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals to be the, “…single most successful intervention in our nation’s history for leading people living with substance use and mental health disorders out of the justice system and into lives of recovery and stability.”

Getting Caught High on Ecstasy

In addition to the illegal possession, trafficking, and distribution of ecstasy, the use of ecstasy is also considered an unlawful offense and will be prosecuted as such. In the state of Colorado, the illegal use of ecstasy is classified as a level 2 misdemeanor and carries maximum penalties of up to 12 months in prison and a $750 fine.

Ecstasy use detected in random drug test programs for individuals on probation or drug conditions also constitutes an unlawful offense (such as violation of probation) and will likely result in much more severe legal and financial penalties than those of the original offense.

While ecstasy is generally eliminated from a user’s system in about seven hours following use, it remains detectable in urine, blood and hair follicle tests for extended periods of time. Ecstasy is detectable in urine and blood tests for between three and four days and in hair follicle tests for up to 90 days following use.

Depending upon the conditions of pretrial intervention, probation or the severity of the ecstasy use offense, individuals caught using ecstasy will face severe legal and financial penalties.

Key Points: Getting Caught with Ecstasy

Possession of ecstasy is a serious criminal and personal health matter. Keep in mind the following key points regarding being caught with ecstasy in your possession:

  • Possessing any form of ecstasy is illegal in every state in the United States
  • The DEA classifies the drug as a schedule I substance, meaning it has no medical value
  • The more ecstasy found in your possession the larger the legal penalties will be
  • People caught in possession of large amounts of ecstasy, or those with previous criminal records could face millions in fines and decades in prison
  • Drug tests can detect ecstasy consumption — up to 90 days with hair follicle tests

If yourself or a loved one struggles with ecstasy, The Recovery Village can help. Reach out to a representative today to learn more about treatment centers and how personalized treatment plan addresses addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders. Contact The Recovery Village today to take the first steps toward your healthier future.

Bryan Hindin
By – Bryan Hindin
Bryan Hindin is a law clerk with years of experience working in personal injury, criminal defense, and employment law firms. Read more
Thomas Christiansen
Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.