In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was signed into law as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act by President Richard Nixon. This was created to help with the U.S. drug policy by providing regulations about the different types of drugs and by allowing for the classification of drugs into different schedules. According to §811(b) of the CSA, drugs are classified according to eight different factors. This includes the actual and potential for abuse, the evidence of pharmacological effect, the current scientific knowledge about the drug, the history of abuse with the drug, the scope and duration of abuse, the risk to public health the drug poses, the liability of dependency and whether or not the drug is a precursor of a drug already listed within the CSA.
Based upon these factors, the drugs are then broken down into different schedules. According to §812 of the act, the schedules are as follows. Schedule I includes drugs with a high potential for abuse, drugs with no current medicinal use and drugs for which there is no accepted safe use – examples include marijuana, heroin and peyote. Schedule II includes drugs with a high potential for abuse, drugs for which there is a currently accepted medical use and drugs that may lead to psychological and / or physical dependence – examples include cocaine, opium and morphine.
Schedule III includes drugs with a potential for abuse that is lessened than Schedule I and II, a drug with an accepted medical use and dugs which may lead to moderate physical dependency and / or high psychological dependency – examples include codeine, anabolic steroids and ketamine. Schedule IV includes drugs with a low potential for abuse compared to the higher schedules, a drug that has a currently accepted medicinal use and drugs with limited dependency – examples include antidiarrheal drugs, Xanax and Valium. Finally, there are Schedule V which includes drugs which have a low potential for abuse, a currently accepted medical use and limited possibility for dependence – examples of this include cough suppressants and Lyrica.
The schedule in which a drug falls will determine the penalties that are associated with it for possession (http://www.orangecountycriminallaw.com/Practice_Areas/Drug_Crimes/Drug_Possession.aspx), trafficking, manufacturing or other drug-related crimes. In most cases, these drugs are tried as a state-level crime, but in some circumstances they can become a federal offense. Examples of drug crimes being tried on the federal level is in trafficking when the crime occurs over several state or national boundaries. Should this occur, the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will become involved.
If you have recently been criminally charged with a drug-related crime (http://www.orangecountycriminallaw.com/Practice_Areas/Drug_Crimes.aspx), regardless of the specifics, it is highly encouraged that you get the involvement of a criminal lawyer. You need legal representation that will take an aggressive approach – someone who won’t take no for an answer. These are serious criminal charges and unless you have an innovative and dynamic attorney, you could find yourself facing life-altering criminal penalties that range from monetary fines to imprisonment. This could and will have a serious impact not only on your personal life, but on your professional life as well. You therefore need to do everything possible to ensure that you are being proactive in your attempts to protect and defend your legal rights.