What Are Drug Schedules?

Personal Injury Lawyer

There are some substances with high potential for abuse, as well as some chemicals used in the production of dangerous drugs. However, some drugs that can be dangerous and highly addictive can also be effective at treating certain medical conditions. Controlled substances are those to which the government restricts access because of their potential for abuse or other harm.

The Drug Enforcement Agency arranges controlled substances according to five schedules. Each schedule has a different level of restriction based on how effective it can be at treating disease versus how dangerous it can be under the wrong circumstances. Roman numerals are used to identify the five schedules.

Schedule V

Out of all the controlled substances, Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse. Like most other controlled substances, they are available with a doctor’s prescription, and doctors have more leeway to prescribe them. Preparations that contain narcotics in small amounts are included in Schedule V.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV medications have higher abuse potential than Schedule V drugs. Therefore, there are more restrictions on possessing and prescribing them. Examples of Schedule IV drugs include sleep aids and anti-anxiety medications, such as Ambien and Valium. Tramadol, a pain medication that is not a narcotic but works similarly, is another Schedule IV medication.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs have moderate potential for abuse but some medical uses as well. Examples include anabolic steroids, which are often abused by athletes and weightlifters, and ketamine, which has legitimate use as an anesthetic but is also used as a club drug and date rape facilitator.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs can be dangerous when not used correctly because of their high abuse potential and sometimes severe side effects. However, they have some accepted medical uses. Schedule II drugs include some that are frequently prescribed, such as Ritalin or oxycodone, as well as those with limited medical uses only prescribed under very rare circumstances, such as methamphetamine and cocaine.

Schedule I

Like Schedule II drugs, Schedule I drugs are considered very dangerous. Unlike Schedule II drugs, Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical uses. Therefore, it is illegal for doctors to prescribe them, and the only people who can legally access them are scientists doing research authorized by the government. Examples of Schedule I drugs include LSD and heroin.

The penalties for illegal possession of controlled substances can vary in severity based on the drug’s schedule. Contact a lawyer, like a drug crime lawyer from May Law, LLP, so that he or she can try to help defend you against drug charges.