Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How do I report narcotics activity?
    In danger or in need of immediate medical attention? Call 911 Now.

    Narcotics activity can be reported directly to the New York City Police Department by calling Crime Stoppers: 1-800-577-TIPS (1-800-577-8477) or Crime Stoppers (Spanish): 1-800-57PISTA (1-800-577-4782).

  • How do I report suspicious or illegal activity regarding prescription controlled substances?
    The Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) is the law enforcement arm of the New York State Department of Health. BNE is responsible for protecting the public health by combating the illegal use and trafficking of prescription controlled substances. Narcotic Investigators investigate suspected drug diversion or illegal sales involving theft, forgery, and fraudulent visits to practitioners' offices and work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement. The Bureau also prevents prescription drug abuse through educational materials and presentations for parents, educators, and healthcare professionals.

  • How do I report a drug poisoning?

    In danger or in need of immediate medical attention? Call 911 Now.

    New York City Poison Control Center
    Operated by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the poison control center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by registered pharmacists and nurses certified in poison information.

    • Emergency Hotline: 212-POISONS (212-764-7667) or 1-800-222-1222
    • For language translation services and assistance for the hearing impaired, call (TDD) 212-689-9014
    • Visit the website

  • What should I do with unused prescription drugs?
    Unused prescription drugs left in medicine cabinets can invite theft and abuse. New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation allowing pharmacies to take back unwanted drugs. Also look for Take-Back Programs offered by law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration. The FDA provides instruction on how to properly dispose of medications at Flushing is generally discouraged for environmental reasons, with some exceptions. See the DEC guidelines at
  • What should I do if I have concerns about someone’s drug use?

    In danger or in need of immediate medical attention? Call 911 Now.

    For New York City residents, NYC WELL offers free, confidential mental health support. Speak to a counselor via phone, text or chat and get access to mental health and substance misuse services in more than 200 languages.

    • 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), Press 2
    • In Spanish: 1-888-692-9355, Press 3
    • In Mandarin and Cantonese dialects: 1-888-692-9355, Press 4
    • Text WELL to 65173
    • Visit the website


    The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services offers outreach campaigns, a 24-hour hotline, and other preventative and treatment efforts on the issues of alcoholism, drug abuse and problem gambling.

  • What should I do if I have concerns about my child and drugs?

    In danger or in need of immediate medical attention? Call 911 Now.

    Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is committed to helping families struggling with their son or daughter’s substance use. The organization empowers families with information, support and guidance to get the help their loved one needs and deserves. And they advocate for greater understanding and more effective programs to treat the disease of addiction. Visit their website for more information at

  • What is a narcotic drug?
    In danger or in need of immediate medical attention? Call 911 Now.

    Narcotics are “hard” drugs, such as cocaine, crack-cocaine and heroin, and are considered to be the most dangerous for users. A number of prescription medications are also narcotics, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and other similar opioids. A full list is contained in the New York State Penal Law and the New York State Public Health Law.

  • What is a controlled substance?
    A wide range of drugs are classified as controlled substances. Narcotics are one type of controlled substance. Ecstasy, methamphetamine and other “designer” drugs are also controlled substances, as are narcotic “preparations” like Vicodin. Controlled substances are defined in the New York State Penal Law and the New York State Public Health Law.
  • What about marijuana?
    Marijuana is a different category of drug than either narcotics or controlled substances. It is illegal to possess or sell marijuana in New York State, except through the medical marijuana program, which was established by the Compassionate Care Act. The top charge for marijuana is a C felony for sale of more than one pound or possession of more than ten pounds. Penalties for selling or possessing marijuana are much lower than for the sale or possession of the same quantity of a narcotic drug or controlled substance.
  • What is a felony?
    Felonies are the most serious type of criminal offense and carry a permissible sentence of one or more years in state prison. They are divided into five classes: “A", "B", "C", "D", and "E.” An “A” felony is the most serious, and an "E" felony is the least serious. The Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) has citywide jurisdiction for felony narcotics cases.
  • What are the other arrest charges in New York?
    Violations carry a maximum 15-day term of incarceration. While they can lead to arrest, they are not defined as crimes. Misdemeanors are punishable by a sentence of 15 days to one year imprisonment and are divided into two classes: "A" and "B." The maximum term of imprisonment for an "A" misdemeanor is one year and the maximum term for a "B" misdemeanor is three months.
  • What are the penalties for drug-related offenses in New York?
    Laws governing the prosecution of drug crimes cover a wide range of activity, and there are many factors that impact penalties. The severity of a penalty depends on whether a person is selling or simply possessing drugs, the quantity and type of drug involved and whether there is a prior criminal record. Generally the sale of drugs is considered to be a more serious crime than possession.
  • Who decides what sentence someone will get?
    A judge determines what sentence a defendant will receive after conviction. Defendants have the option of going on trial or pleading guilty. If a defendant is found guilty at trial or pleads guilty to the highest charge, a judge will determine what sentence a defendant will receive based on the associated sentencing range for the crime. A judge will often consider a defendant’s prior criminal record, as well as the specific facts and circumstances of the case.
  • What was the effect of the Drug Law Reform Acts?
    The Drug Law Reform Acts of 2004 and 2005 repealed the Rockefeller Drug Laws, eliminated mandatory life sentences and lowered penalties for most drug crimes. Court-ordered drug treatment programs have also been expanded.
  • How is the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) staffed and funded?
    The Special Narcotics Prosecutor is an independent prosecutor appointed by the five District Attorneys in New York City to head the office. All of the five District Attorneys assign Assistant District Attorneys from their staffs to serve in SNP. The office’s budget covers operational costs and salaries for legal, managerial and support staff. This budget is funded by the city, state and federal government.
  • What can SNP do for my community?
    SNP is committed to serving residents of New York City by enforcing drug laws that protect neighborhoods. Community participation is vital to this mission. By responding to community concerns, the office seeks to enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers. 

    The Director of Community Outreach meets with community and religious leaders, block associations, tenants’ groups, the New York City Housing Authority and other groups to address local drug problems, while conferring regularly with NYPD officials to devise strategies to combat crime and strengthen neighborhoods.

    Experienced prosecutors also offer lectures to schools and youth groups on topics ranging from drug laws and gang activity to alternatives to incarceration.