Controlled substances are drugs or chemicals the government regulates because of the harm they can cause the user. Different substances affect people in different ways. For instance, some have a greater potential for abuse or for causing dependency. The government places substances with similar effects into specific categories, called Schedules.
There are five controlled substances Schedules. If you are accused of a drug crime, the Schedule the alleged substance is in will affect the charge and penalties you face.
What Is a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is a drug or chemical that could lead to abuse, addiction, or physical or psychological dependence. These substances include opioids, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and anabolic steroids.
To keep people safe from the harm these substances can do, the government places restrictions on them.
Governmental regulations concern how the drug is:
- Distributed, and
Some controlled substances are illegal, meaning no person is licensed to make, sell, deliver, or use them. Others are recognized as having valid medical uses but may only be distributed by authorized individuals.
What Are the Different Controlled Substances Categories?
The government has established five controlled substances Schedules based on the drugs’ dangers. The Schedule a substance is placed into depends on its medical use and potential for abuse and dependency. Schedule I contains the most serious drugs, and Schedule V the least.
Below are the different Schedules and the characteristics of the substances in them:
- Schedule I: Schedule I substances do not have an accepted medical use in the U.S., and even with supervision, they are considered dangerous to use. They are also very likely to be abused and could lead to severe psychological and/or physical dependence.
- Schedule II: Like Schedule I substances, Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse and could lead to severe psychological and/or physical dependence. Unlike Schedule I drugs, Schedule II substances have an accepted use for medical treatment in the U.S.
- Schedule III: Schedule III substances have an accepted medical use in the U.S. They are less likely to lead to abuse or cause dependence than Schedule I or II drugs.
- Anabolic steroids
- Schedule IV: Schedule IV drugs have an accepted medical use in the U.S. Compared to Schedule III substances, the potential for abuse or physical or psychological dependence is limited.
- Schedule V: Schedule V substances have an accepted medical use. Their potential for abuse or physical or psychological dependence is lower than that for Schedule IV drugs. Schedule V drugs are substances containing limited quantities of narcotics, such as cough medicines with codeine.
How Do the Controlled Substances Schedules Affect Drug Crime Penalties?
The Schedule a controlled substance is in may substantially affect the consequences you face for certain drug crimes. For instance, suppose you are accused of drug distribution. You could receive a harsher prison term and fines if the substance were in Schedule I than if it were in Schedule V.
To illustrate this point, compare the potential penalties for drug manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent:
- The substance is in Schedule I or II:
- Up to 30 years of imprisonment and/or
- Between $3,000 and $100,000 in fines
- The substance is in Schedule III or IV:
- Up to 20 years in prison and/or
- Up to $40,000 in fines
- The substance is in Schedule V:
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
For some Schedule I or II drugs, having certain quantities can result in imprisonment for up to 50 years and a fine of up to $500,000.
Examples of these substances and their amounts include:
- 1 ounce to 1 kilogram of a mixture containing heroin
- 1 to 10 grams of PCP
- 1/10 of a gram to 1 gram of LSD
Speak with an Attorney About Your Case
Drugs and other chemicals are separated into one of the five controlled substances Schedules based on the harm they can cause individuals. The classification of a drug also affects the type of sanctions a court can impose upon a conviction for certain controlled substance offenses.
For help fighting your charge in Rhode Island, please contact The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. at (401) 312-4385.