Possession With Intent

Q: How many steroid tablets are enough to prove an intent to sell?

A:In most state courts, drug traffickers are understandably viewed as deserving of much harsher punishment than personal users. Possession of what’s considered a “large” quantity has traditionally been a basis to infer that the possessor was a seller rather than a user. Steroid offenders are often prosecuted as dealers based merely on the quantity recovered, without any other evidence of distribution. I’ve seen charges of possession with intent to sell based on less than 100 tabs or 30 amps.

However, the inference isn’t always warranted. Confusion occurs because of the experience police have with street drug cases, where the possession of 15 or 20 individually packaged units of cocaine or heroin implies an intention to sell it. The implication is based on the fact that narcotics users tend to purchase and possess only enough for an immediate high. For example, a crack addict goes out, buys enough crack for an immediate high, smokes it, and experiences the immedate intoxication of the drug. When the effect wears off, he’s off in search of more crack. Steroids are different. They’re typically purchased with long-range planning for the months ahead. Uncertain about future supplies, steroid users will buy enough gear to avoid running out of stock mid-cycle. Many steroid pack rats can stockpile quite a stash. It’s not surprising that police can mistake a really hardcore personal user’s home for a major distribution warehouse.

A common example of the problem involves low dosage oral tablets, such as methandrostenolone (called methandienone in Europe, and once popularized under the brand name Dianabol). This hormone is now imported from countries such as Thailand, where it’s called Anabol. Each pink, pentagon-shaped Anabol tablet contains 5mg of methandrostenolone, a relatively small amount of active product. Compare it, for example, to its closest steroid cousin, Anadrol-50 (oxymetholone), which provides 50mg per tab — 10 times the amount of an Anabol tablet. Because of the low potency, users typically average 5 to 10 tablets daily, although heavy users may consume double that amount or even much more. One study in the medical literature [D.L.J. Freed, A.J. Banks, et al., “Anabolic steroids in athletics: Crossover double-blind trial on weightlifters,” British Medical Journal, 2, (1975), 471-473] noted that doses up to 300mg per day (sixty tablets daily!) have been reportedly used by some muscle building enthusiasts for several years (this dosing regimen would be extremely liver-toxic, dangerous, and, frankly, simply idiotic. Duh!). But let’s postulate as an example a less outrageous but still very ambitious three-month cycle (or two six-week cycles) at 10 tablets (50mg) daily. Well, a whopping total of nine hundred (900) Anabol tablets would be required for personal use. That quantity would most likely be pre-purchased (and possessed) as a single tub of 1,000 tablets (or more), and it would likely be administered concurrently (stacked) with one or more injectable steroids (also in the user’s possession).

: regardless of the health ramifications, non-medical or “cosmetic” steroid users use steroids, and, more significantly, purchase and possess steroids, in more substantial amounts than most players in the criminal justice community realize. If you’re a law enforcement agent, prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer or judge, you may find the information presented here to be relevant to future cases. If you’re a personal user who’s being wrongfully prosecuted for intending to traffic steroids, discuss this article [and the chapter of Legal Muscle it was adapted from] with your lawyer and make sure that he or she is thoroughly versed on the issues. With a fully educated and prepared attorney in your corner, you stand the best chance of getting a fair shake in court!

Rick Collins, JD, CSCS is the lawyer that members of the bodybuilding community and nutritional supplement industry turn to when they need legal help or representation.

[© Rick Collins, 2011. All rights reserved. For informational purposes only, not to be construed as legal or medical advice.]