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How drug schedules relate to possession penalties

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2020 | Drug Crimes |

We know that drug scheduling may seem complicated or confusing. However, if you face possession charges, we believe that knowing the different drug schedules may help you understand the possible penalties.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, drug schedules are categories of substances grouped together according to abuse potential and accepted medical use, if any.

Drug schedules

Another name for drug schedules is controlled substance schedules. The control referenced in the name refers to the regulations that limit access to the drug by the general public. There are five controlled substance schedules altogether. The lower the schedule number, the stricter the restrictions on access to the substance.

Schedule I controlled substances are those with no accepted medical uses. Therefore, they have the strictest controls. Doctors cannot prescribe them to patients, and ordinary citizens cannot possess them legally.

Possession penalties

The law imposes harsher penalties for possessing controlled substances with high abuse potential. For example, the fine for possessing a Schedule V substance, which has a relatively low potential for abuse, may be $250. Possessing a Schedule I substance, with its high abuse potential, is 1,000 times greater. Additional fines for drug possession per scheduling may be as follows:

  • Schedule IV: $1,250
  • Schedule III: $6,250
  • Schedule II: $125,000

However, it is not only the schedule of the substance you possess that determines the severity of the charges you may face. A number of factors may go into it, including your criminal history.

It is also worth pointing out that even some drugs that are illegal in nearly every context may still have accepted medical use. For example, cocaine is a dangerous stimulant only rarely prescribed in the United States. However, it still has accepted medical uses on an extremely limited basis, so it is a Schedule II controlled substance rather than a Schedule I.