Under the Controlled Substances Act, drugs are divided into five classifications, which are called schedules. The system rates the drug based on whether it is acceptable for medical use and how likely it is to be abused. While many illegal drugs are high on the schedule list, so are some legal prescriptions because they have the potential to lead to addiction and drug abuse.
Schedule I drugs are all illegal. To be categorized this high, a drug has to have no approved medical use and have a high risk of abuse and addiction. Heroin and ecstasy are two drugs that fall into this category.
Schedule II drugs, on the other hand, do have medical uses. They also pose a high risk of abuse and some of them are often sold on the black market in illegal ways. Use of a Schedule II drug according to doctors orders is not illegal; use of these substances outside of a medical treatment regime is illegal. Some Schedule II substances include morphine, Ritalin and methadone.
Schedule III and IV drugs have moderate to low potentials for abuse respectively and they do have legitimate medical uses, making it possible to get a legal prescription for them. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are anabolic steroids and marinol. Schedule IV drugs include Xanax and Valium. Some Schedule III and IV drugs have a potential for limited chemical dependence.
Finally, there are Schedule V drugs, which have the lowest potential for abuse among all the controlled substances. Cough syrup with codeine is an example of medication in this category.
If you are facing drug-related charges, the schedule of the drugs in question can have an impact on what charges you face and what the potential consequences are. Talk to a criminal law attorney to understand what you are dealing with and what options you have moving forward.
Source: FindLaw, “Drug Classifications,” accessed Feb. 17, 2017