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An overview of the Controlled Substance Act

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

When someone is caught handling, manufacturing or selling illicit drugs, then they can be charged with drug possession. Drug possession can lead to criminal consequences, such as incarceration and fines imposed by the state. However, some people experience harsher consequences if federal charges are lodged. 

At a federal level, every drug has a schedule. Schedules determine the intensity of a drug. When someone is caught with an intense schedule drug, they may face higher criminal charges. Here’s what you should know about drug schedules:

Understanding the 5 drug schedules 

The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) regulates drugs under five schedules. The categorization depends on a drug’s medical use, safety, dependence and abuse. Here’s what you should know about each drug schedule: 

  • Schedule V: Drugs that can be bought over the counter typically have the lowest form of risk of abuse, which are considered Schedule V drugs. Most people of legal age can buy and carry these drugs without consequences. 
  • Schedule IV: Drugs like Valium, Xanax and Ambien have a small amount of abuse risk. These drugs can still be bought over the counter or prescribed by medical professionals, which places them as Schedule IV drugs. 
  • Schedule III: Drugs used for medical purposes, such as steroids and testosterone, are considered Schedule III drugs and often require prescriptions. The use of these drugs can lead to abuse, addiction and dependence.
  • Schedule II: There is typically no safe use for drugs at a Schedule II or higher. These drugs can include cocaine, PCP and morphine. People often become mentally and physically dependent on these drugs and can experience withdrawal after use.
  • Schedule I: At the highest risk of abuse and dependency are Schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs can include LSD, heroin and peyote. 

Being accused of drug possession can lead to severe and permanent consequences. That’s why it’s best to seek legal guidance at the earliest opportunity. 

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