The criminal law system regarding drug offenses has multiple levels. For example, Gulf Shores has its own court to hear criminal cases, but the laws come from Alabama state statute and relevant case law from various jurisdictions. Some offenses may also involve federal law.
Per FindLaw, the Alabama Criminal Code contains definitions of the various types of drug crimes in chapter 12, article 5. There are nine subsections of drug law, called divisions. These divisions generally do three things: define specific offenses, provide factors that might make a crime more serious and supply additional penalties that a judge could give under certain circumstances.
Unsurprisingly, this level of complexity and judicial discretion often makes it necessary to understand criminal charges in a greater legal context. Many things will go into a final ruling, such as state law, previous cases and even what a defendant says to police or prosecutors.
Having a local perspective may also be advantageous, as many of these laws typically first go into action at the local level. As explained on the Gulf Shores website, the municipal court has the right to try misdemeanor criminal cases that happen within the police department jurisdiction. For reference, possession of drug paraphernalia is a common misdemeanor drug offense.
Those standing accused of these relatively minor offenses in town would probably have their hearings at the Gulf Shores Municipal Court. However, it is important to remember that even misdemeanor convictions carry serious consequences, and also that Gulf Shores takes the criminal justice process as seriously as any other municipality in Alabama. Failure to handle charges respectfully and appropriately could result in both imprisonment and a fine above and beyond what was necessary for the case in question.