Drug Violations Law

Controlled Substance Schedules

If you are found to be in possession of illegal drugs, you can face criminal drug charges. Drugs are categorized into different groups (schedules) under federal drug laws. Controlled substances can be classified by their medical use and the risk of dependency or abuse. Under state and federal drug laws, some drugs are illegal for any purpose, and others are only available with a prescription.

Criminal drug charges in the U.S. are generally prosecuted under state law. If you were arrested for drug possession, manufacturing drugs, or drug trafficking, talk to a drug defense attorney in your area who can help with local drug charges.

Federal Drug Schedules

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) categorizes all controlled substances that the federal law regulates. The first CSA act was passed in 1970 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Since then, substances have been added, removed, and rescheduled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or by legislation.

Drugs are categorized into five schedules based on the potential for abuse, knowledge of the substance and its effects, and risk of dependence.

  • Schedule I: No current medical use, and a high potential for abuse
  • Schedule II: Drugs that are considered dangerous with a high potential for abuse and dependence
  • Schedule III: Drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence
  • Schedule IV: Drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.
  • Schedule V: Medical use drugs with a lower potential for abuse or addiction

What Are Examples of Different Scheduled Drugs?

The CSA lists drugs and their schedules, including illegal narcotics, controlled narcotics, and prescription medications. The following are some examples of scheduled drugs under the CSA and their category.

  • Schedule I Drugs: Heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), methaqualone, and peyote.
  • Schedule II Drugs: Methadone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, pentobarbital, methamphetamines, and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
  • Schedule III Drugs: Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and non-narcotics like anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule IV Drugs: Diazepam (Valium), Alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and midazolam (Versed).
  • Schedule V Drugs: Cough medicine with low amounts of codeine.

Many people do not consider marijuana to belong in the same category as heroin. However, it is still categorized as a Schedule I drug under federal law, like LSD or peyote.

States Controlled Substance Laws

States have generally adopted the same drug schedules as the federal Controlled Substance Act schedule. However, several states have exempted certain controlled substances from federal schedules. In many states, marijuana or cannabis is no longer treated the same as other Schedule 1 controlled substances. Marijuana and cannabinoids are legal for recreational use in more than 21 states and for medical use in a majority of states.

Schedules and Drug Crime Sentencing

A drug’s schedule is important because it can affect the defendant’s criminal sentencing. Different drugs may have different laws for possessionpossession with intent to distribute, and manufacture based on the amount of narcotic drugs involved.

For example, in Texaspossessing less than 1 gram of a Schedule 1 drug like heroin is a felony. However, possessing less than 28 grams of Schedule 3 drugs like Xanax is a Class A misdemeanor. The type of drugs and amounts or dosage units involved can mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.

Find a Drug Crime Defense Attorney

Federal drug laws are prosecuted in federal court. However, most drug crimes are enforced by local police and law enforcement. It is important to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands controlled substance schedules and the drug laws in your state. Contact a drug crime defense lawyer in your area to understand your legal options.

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