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5 Categories of Substances: Which Drugs Can You Legally Possess?

When most Americans hear the word "drugs," they automatically assume the speaker is talking about illegal substances, but the term also refers to leg

When most Americans hear the word “drugs,” they automatically assume the speaker is talking about illegal substances, but the term also refers to legal substances used to treat medical illnesses. There are several factors that go into determining how a drug is scheduled, including its potential for abuse or dependence and its potential medical uses. Read on to find out about the five categories of substances to learn the basics of drug possession.

Schedule I Drugs

Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous. They have a high potential for abuse and do not have any accepted uses in the medical community, so they are never prescribed legally by doctors. Examples of schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, cannabis, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote.

Since there is no medically necessary reason to possess schedule I drugs, having or selling them is always a crime. Defendants charged with possession of schedule I drugs can contact Aviso Law LLC to learn about their options.

Schedule II Drugs

Schedule II drugs are still considered dangerous because of their high potential for physical and psychological dependence, but they have recognized medical applications so doctors can prescribe them to patients. This class of substances includes cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, Dexedrine, prescription opioids like oxycodone, meperidine, and hydromorphone, and certain ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. It is still illegal to possess schedule II drugs without a valid prescription.

Schedule III Drugs

Schedule III substances have a lower potential for physical and psychological dependence, although it is still possible to abuse schedule III drugs. Substances that fall into this category include ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and combination drugs like Tylenol with codeine. It is legal to possess schedule III drugs with a valid prescription.

Schedule IV Drugs

Schedule IV substances have a low potential for abuse. They’re used more commonly in modern medicine, and as long as those taking them to have a valid prescription they should be legally in the clear. Examples of schedule IV drugs include anti-anxiety medications like Xanax, Valium, Ativan; painkillers like Tramadol, Tarwin, Darvon, and Darvocet; muscle relaxants like Soma; and sleep aids like Ambien.

Schedule V Drugs

Schedule V substances have only a low potential for abuse. They include most antidiarrheals, antitussives, and analgesics. Some schedule V drugs contain limited quantities of narcotics, as well.

Schedule V drugs include cough suppressants like Robitussin AC that contain 200 milligrams or less of codeine per 100 millilitres.

Other schedule V drugs include targeted pain relievers like Lyrica and Motofen and antidiarrheals like Lomotil and Parepectolin. Since schedule V drugs present only minimal potential for abuse, there are no restrictions on prescription refills. Many consumers take schedule V drugs daily as part of their preventative healthcare regimes, but it’s still illegal to possess schedule V drugs without a valid prescription or to sell them to others.

The Bottom Line

In America, prescription drugs are classified according to their potential for abuse and their medical necessity. Schedule I drugs are the only class of substances that are always illegal to possess or sell, as no doctor can write a prescription for them and no pharmacy can sell them to patients.

That doesn’t mean defendants facing drug charges for possession or sale of schedule II-V drugs are in the clear, though. Anyone who is facing drug charges should seek the help of a lawyer as soon as possible after his or her arrest.

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