What are drug schedules?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2022 | Drug Charges |

While many drugs can be purchased over the counter or with a prescription, many drugs aren’t commonly sold for public consumption. Some drugs are even declared “illegal” and cannot be prescribed. 

Who decides what makes a drug illegal?

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is mainly in charge of the classification of drugs. To regulate legal drug consumption and distribution, drugs are categorized into different “schedules.” These schedules clarify a drug’s potential for abuse, legal status and rules of distribution. Here’s what you should know:

The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 controls all

Since 1970, drugs have been categorized into five schedules under the Controlled Substance Act. While it may seem backward, a Schedule I drug is often considered the most addictive, while a Schedule V has a low potential for addiction. These schedules work as followed:

  • Schedule V drugs have low substance abuse and are often found over the counter.
  • Schedule IV drugs have slight addiction potential and are often prescribed by doctors.
  • Schedule III drugs may cause abusers mental dependency issues. They’re prescribed with caution.
  • Schedule II drugs have an abnormal addiction and are rarely prescribed by doctors.
  • Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for addiction and are often considered illicit. 

Drugs that have high addiction problems may cause users to become physically and mentally dependent on the substance, possibly altering their mental awareness and personality. However, that doesn’t stop many people from illegally manufacturing and distributing drugs, especially Schedule I, II and III drugs.

New drugs and variations on old drugs often move from one schedule to another as their legal status is redefined. Synthetic marijuana or “spice,” for example, used to be sold legally but has since become illegal. That can create a lot of problems for distributors. If you’re suspected of distributing illicit drugs, you need experienced legal help to build your defense. 


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