Because of their addictive tendencies and the high potential for abuse, certain substances are regulated by state and federal governments. The Controlled Substances Act was enacted in 1970 and designates controlled substances into five separate categories.
This list is updated annually, and when an individual is accused of possessing a controlled substance, this list establishes the severity of the crime and whether there was a legitimate reason to possess the substance in question.
What are the controlled substance schedules?
Schedule I substances are designated as having a high potential for abuse, and according to federal law, currently do not have accepted medical use. According to the Controlled Substances Act, these substances lack an acceptable level to use safely under the care or supervision of a medical professional. This schedule includes hallucinogens, cannabinoids, heroin, LSD, marijuana, peyote and ecstasy.
Schedule II substances are those with a high potential for abuse, with usage leading to severe psychological or physical dependency. Such substances include many prescription opioids and other substances used to relieve pain.
Schedule III substances stimulate the central nervous system and, according to the law, have less potential for abuse but a moderate chance for dependency. This category includes amphetamine, methamphetamine, Tylenol with codeine, ketamine and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV substances have a lower potential for abuse and are treated similarly to Schedule III substances. These can be legally obtained only through prescription. This category includes many commonly prescribed relaxants and drugs used to treat anxiety. Finally, Schedule V substance are those that contain limited quantities of narcotics. This includes cough syrups with codeine. Some of these substances are available legally without a prescription.
Is it lawful to possess a controlled substance?
In simple terms, it is illegal to possess any substance listed in the five schedules; however, there could be a defense for possession. Often, this includes a medical prescription or lawful purchase.
If possession is found to be unlawful, drug charges are likely to result. The penalties associated with this offense varies greatly, as it is dependent on the type of substance, the quantity of the substance, whether possession was for personal use or for sale or distribution and whether the charge came from the state or federal authorities.
Facing a charge for possession of a controlled substance can be a very serious and overwhelming situation. The accused may feel lost when navigating a defense, making it important that they explore their defense options when gaining a better understanding of the charges against them.