The system of drug classification in the U.S. is very complex. In fact, because of all the exceptions and differences in chemical composition, it would be hard to classify drugs to exactly which is legal and to what extent it is legal. You should familiarize yourself with the classification of the medication you are taking.
How are drugs classified?
The Drug Enforcement Agency the DEA classifies drugs in five schedules. The schedules allow us to determine whether a drug has established medical uses and how dangerous the potential is for substance dependency.
- Schedule I: These drugs are without recognized medical use and people are more likely to abuse them due to their addictive nature. Examples: marijuana, heroin, LSD and ecstasy
- Schedule II: Such drugs and substances also have a high potential for abuse, and users are more likely to develop a serious psychological and physical dependence on these drugs. The drugs under this schedule are hazardous. Examples: cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone OxyContin, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin
- Schedule III: These drugs have a lower potential for physical and psychological dependence than schedule I and II drugs. However, they are still more addictive and dangerous than drugs classified under schedule IV. Examples: ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone
- Schedule IV: Because they are lower on the list, schedule IV drugs have a low potential for physical dependence and abuse. These are typically anti-anxiety medications and muscle relaxers and produce a calming effect. Examples: Xanax, Valium, Ambien and Tramadol
- Schedule V: These are your over-the-counter medications used to treat diarrhea and phlegm build-up. We also find our analgesics or painkillers under this classification. The drugs here have limited quantities of allowable narcotics and low potential for abuse. Examples: Robitussin AC, Lomotil and Motofen
Drugs contain a variety of chemicals in varying amounts. Knowing what you are taking, and its medical use could help you explain why you legally possess the substance.
An acquittal because not all drugs are equal
When it comes to drugs, the penalties and charges are so broad. Even broader than the classifications of these drugs. The more narcotics in a substance, the more severe the penalties can be. If someone has raised drug charges against you, a lawyer with the right experience can help build a strong defense.