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What Is the Federal Drug Scheduling System?

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has categorized drugs into what's called a drug scheduling system. Drugs are organized based on several key features in an attempt to make certain legal elements more streamlined for government personnel.

Another reason for the drug scheduling system is to restrict access to a particular drug and its supply, which ultimately makes researching the substance much more difficult (as is the case with cannabis).

How the Federal Drug Scheduling System Works

The Controlled Substances Act has allowed the federal government to provide governing power to the DEA. The DEA controls the drug scheduling system.

To establish a schedule, the DEA asks if a substance can be abused. If so, then it is put on a schedule. If not, the drug is excluded. Then, the substance's medical value and the relative potential for abuse are measured to determine where it falls on the scale.

This leaves two major problems regarding a substance:

  • The potential for abuse, and
  • The medicinal value.

The Controlled Substances Act doesn't clearly define abuse, so the DEA and other federal agencies have defined it. According to this definition, abuse occurs when people use a substance recreationally and end up with personal health issues or otherwise jeopardize society as a whole.

In order for a substance to hold medical value in the eyes of the law, it must have large-scale clinical trials to present evidence proving the claims beyond a reasonable doubt.

An easy way to think about the drug scheduling system is to break it down into two groups:

  • Medicinal substances
  • Nonmedicinal substances

Schedule I drugs are considered to have no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. Schedule II to V drugs are considered to have some medicinal value and are numerically rated depending upon the abuse potential.

Note: According to the DEA, "a substance need not be listed as a controlled substance to be treated as a Schedule I substance for criminal prosecution. A controlled substance analog is a substance which is intended for human consumption and is structurally or pharmacologically substantially similar to or is represented as being similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II substance and is not an approved medication in the United States."

In simpler terms, even if a substance isn't listed on the drug scheduling system, an individual may still be criminally prosecuted for trafficking it.

A Breakdown of the Drug Scheduling System

Schedule I

Schedule I substances are considered drugs with no currently accepted medicinal use and high abuse potential.

Some examples of Schedule I drugs include:

  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Cannabis
  • Ecstasy
  • Methaqualone
  • Peyote

Schedule II

Schedule II substances are considered drugs with high abuse potential, and use can prompt severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are considered dangerous.

Some examples of Schedule II drugs include:

  • Vicodin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methadone
  • Dilaudid
  • Demerol
  • OxyContin
  • Fentanyl
  • Dexedrine
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin

Schedule III

Schedule III substances are considered drugs with a mild to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs' abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV.

Some examples of Schedule III drugs include:

  • Tylenol with codeine
  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Testosterone

Schedule IV

Schedule IV substances are considered drugs with low abuse potential and low dependence risk.

Some examples of Schedule IV drugs include:

  • Xanax
  • Soma
  • Darvon
  • Darvocet
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Talwin
  • Ambien
  • Tramadol

Schedule V

Schedule V substances are considered drugs with lower abuse potential than Schedule IV. These drugs are comprised of combinations using specific amounts of particular narcotics.

Some examples of Schedule V drugs include:

  • Robitussin AC
  • Lomotil
  • Motofen
  • Lyrica
  • Parepectolin

If you're charged with any type of drug crime in Wisconsin, it's critical to get a skilled defense attorney on your side right away. The law handles these types of matters very seriously, so it's in your best interest to seek help as soon as possible. If you have any questions at all, we're here to answer them and help you through this tough time.

Contact our skilled attorneys at Ahmad & Associates today by calling (414) 928-7771 or by filling out our online contact form.

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