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Understanding scheduled drugs

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

People often face drug possession charges when they are caught using, manufacturing or dealing illicit drugs. Someone might be caught in possession of drugs, for example, if there was a search warrant on a car or home or if the person was seen using drugs recreationally. 

Drug possession charges can lead to severe fines and incarceration and a criminal record. These charges can vary. 

How are drug possession penalties decided? It often depends on the schedule of the drug. Here’s what you should understand: 

Schedule drug ratings 

A schedule is a kind of drug rating. Under the Controlled Substance Act, there are 5 categories of drug schedules. Schedules are based on the potential abuse of drugs. The following explains how drugs are rated:

  • Schedule V: These drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and addiction. Schedule V drugs are often obtainable in stores, such as cough medicine/
  • Schedule IV: Drugs like Valium, Xanax and Ambien have a low chance of dependence. Schedule IV drugs are often used for medical purposes and bought in stores. 
  • Schedule III: Drugs with some potential for abuse and addiction are often restricted to hospitals and doctor prescriptions for their medical uses. Schedule III drugs can include steroids and testosterone. 
  • Schedule II: Drugs with a high potential for abuse and dependency can include cocaine, morphine and PCP. Schedule II drugs are rarely used for medical purposes. 
  • Schedule I: As the highest potential for abuse and addiction, Schedule I drugs are the most restricted with very few medical uses. Schedule I drugs can include LSD, heroin and peyote. 

Criminal charges can be influenced by the schedule of a drug. Drug possession penalties may also increase depending on whether the drug was for personal use or in possession with intent to sell. 

Many people are permanently affected by criminal charges. People who understand their legal options may have a better defense.