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Substance Abuse

Drug Schedules of the Controlled Substances Act

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The drug problem has been a social issue for the past few decades. More than 200 drug laws have been implemented, but many of them were found to be ineffective. To address the problem, then-U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, which combined all existing federal drug laws into one statute.

Controlled Substances Act (CSA) 1970

Prior to the implementation of the Controlled Substance Act, the Narcotic Drug of 1932 was developed for the purpose of making the law consistent in various states with regards to control of the sales and use of narcotic drugs. The Controlled Substances Act was further amended in 1990, as the problem with drugs continued to escalate.

The act regulates the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances. It has five drug classifications in which drugs are ranked based on their usefulness and benefits in the treatment for various medical conditions, as well as their potential for abuse.

This classification makes it easier for state legislatures to ratify criminal statutes by simply referring to the schedules rather than having to list all substances. It is also an easier way for drugs to be added or removed from a schedule, rather than having to entirely change the drug law.

Drug laws made by state legislatures must be in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act. This means that state drug laws are more limited than federal drug laws, and should not be in conflict with them. In simplest terms, although a certain state may have some provisions regarding drug use, the federal drug law remains more powerful should anyone fall short of meeting the requirements as stated by state law.

The Controlled Substances Act may be seen as a revenue-earning law as there are a number of people who have been linked with drug use, manufacture and sale. Penalties imposed on drug crimes depend on which schedule the drug falls into.

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

The Drug Enforcement Agency was created by President Richard Nixon in 1973. The agency was designed to regulate the use of controlled substances.

The CSA requires that every person who manufactures, distributes, imports, and exports any drug needs to register under the law. This entails that all registrants have the responsibility for keeping accurate records of their inventory and all transactions should they be investigated by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The DEA is the agency responsible for the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, and may initiate measures to change a drug schedule, and even to add or erase any listed drug from a certain schedule. It is also the responsibility of the DEA to ensure that all registrants abide by storage requirements and security controls proposed by the Controlled Substances Act. Furthermore, the DEA works in coordination with both state and local law enforcement through the creation of special task forces to facilitate in stopping drug trafficking and drug-related violence that affects the country.

Drug Schedules of the Controlled Substances Act

Enlisting a drug or other substance in a certain Schedule or removing it from a particular Schedule is based on 21 USC §§ 801, 801a, 802, 811, 812, 813, and 814. Every schedule specifies the potential for abuse of a substance before it can be placed in that schedule.

Some of the categorized drugs have raised controversy due to its medical benefits. Therefore, the entire regulatory scheme has come across several conflicts with the people who have found that these drugs are very beneficial to them.

Schedule I Controlled Substances

Schedule I Controlled Substances are drugs or other substances that have no current medical use in the treatment in the United States, and have a high potential for abuse. There is no accepted safe use of the drugs or other substances even with the supervision of medical experts.

No prescriptions may be written for Schedule I substances.

Drugs listed under this classification are:

  • Alpha-methyltryptamine: It is a psychedelic, stimulant, and entactogen drug that was originally developed as an antidepressant in the 1960s.
  • Benzylpiperazine : It is a synthetic stimulant which was once sold as a designer drug.
  • Bufotenin
  • Cathinone: It is an amphetamine-like stimulant found in the shrub Catha edulis (khat).
  • Dimethyltryptamine: It is a naturally occurring psychedelic drug and the main constituent of a psychedelic South American brew, ayahuasca.
  • Etorphine: It is a semi-synthetic opioid which has an analgesic potency of approximately 1,000–3,000 times than morphine.
  • GHB: It is used as a general anesthetic and treatment for narcolepsy-cataplexy and alcohol withdrawal
  • Heroin (diacetylmorphine): It is which is a potent pain reliever which I used in Europe in treating terminal cancer patients and is twice as potent as morphine.
  • Ibogaine: It is a psychoactive substance found in plants in the Apocynaceae family. Which is used for medicinal and ritual purposes within African spiritual traditions of the Bwiti.
  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide): It is a semi-synthetic psychedelic drug that was popularly used in the 1960s.
  • Marijuana: including its cannabinoids
  • MDMA (“ecstasy”): It is a stimulant, psychedelic, and entactogenic drug which was used as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Mescaline: It is a hallucinogen that is found in Peyote cactus that has been used by natives of Mexico for religious purposes.
  • Methaqualone: It is a sedative that can produce a range of effects.
  • Peyote
  • Pholcodine
  • Psilocybin and psilocin: These are naturally occurring psychedelic drugs and are found on psilocybin mushrooms.
  • Controlled substance analogs intended for human consumption, as defined by the Federal Analog Act.

Penalties

Except for Fentanyl Analog, LSD, Marijuana, and Heroin, use of any of the substances under the Schedule I Controlled Substances will be penalized with the following:

  • First Offense: Not more than 20 years. If it has caused death or serious injury, the penalty will be not less than 20 years, or more than Life. A fine of $1 million if an individual, $5 million if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: Not more than 30 yrs. If it has caused death or serious injury, the penalty is set to not less than life. Fine $2 million if an individual, $10 million if not an individual.

Schedule II Controlled Substances

Schedule II substances are drugs or other substances that have a high potential for abuse. However, these substances have currently accepted medical use in the United States or currently accepted medical use but with severe restrictions. Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Drugs listed under this classification are:

  • Amphetamine: This was originally placed in Schedule III, but was moved to Schedule II in 1971. This is commonly used for the treatment of ADHD, narcolepsy, severe obesity, and binge eating disorder.
  • Barbiturates
  • Cocaine: It is used as a topical anesthetic and for cessation of severe epistaxis.
  • Codeine: It is used for the treatment of pain, cough, and diarrhea.
  • Diphenoxylate (pure)
  • Fentanyl and most other strong, pure opioid agonists: They are potent, semisynthetic opioid painkillers with a rapid onset and short duration of action.
  • Hydromorphone: It is an opioid pain medication.
  • Methadone: It is used for the treatment of heroin addiction and extreme chronic pain
  • Methamphetamine: It is used for the treatment of ADHD (rare) and in severe obesity.
  • Methylphenidate: It is used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy
  • Morphine: a highly potent painkiller.
  • Nabilone (Cesamet): A synthetic cannabinoid that is used as an antiemetic and as an adjunct analgesic for neuropathic pain.
  • Opium tincture: It is a potent anti-diarrheal.
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Nembutal: It is primarily used today for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia of animals.
  • Pethidine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Secobarbital
  • Tapentadol

Penalties

Except for Cocaine, Cocaine base, Fentanyl, PCP, and Methamphetamine, use of the other substances under Schedule II Controlled Substances will merit the following penalties:

  • First Offense: Not more than 20 years. If it has caused death or serious injury, the penalty will be not less than 20 years, or more than Life. A fine of $1 million if an individual, $5 million if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: Not more than 30 yrs. If it has caused death or serious injury, the penalty is set to not less than life. Fine $2 million if an individual, $10 million if not an individual.

Schedule III Controlled Substances

Schedule III substances are drugs or other substances that have a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II. The substance may have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse of the substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

All drugs under this schedule must have a written or oral prescription in conformity with section 503(b) of that Act (21 USC 353 (b)). These prescriptions may not be filled or refilled more than six months after the date that the prescription was given or be refilled more than five times after the date of the prescription unless renewed by the practitioner.

Drugs listed under this classification are:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Intermediate-acting barbiturates
  • Buprenorphine
  • Dihydrocodeine
  • Ketamine
  • Xyrem: It is a central nervous depressant.
  • Marinol: It is used to treat appetite loss caused by AIDS as well as nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
  • Paregoric: It is an anti-diarrheal and antitussive.
  • Phendimetrazine Tartrate
  • Benzphetamine HCl
  • Fast-acting barbiturates
  • Ergine

Penalties

  • First Offense: A penalty of not more than 5 years and a fine not more than $250,000 if an individual, $1 million if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: A penalty of not more 10 years and a fine not more than $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if not an individual.

Schedule IV Controlled Substances Act

Schedule IV substances are drugs or other substances that have a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III. The drugs or other substances have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

Control measures are similar with those of Schedule III, but prescriptions under this schedule can be refilled up to five times within a six-month period. A prescription that is written, oral or facsimile prescription is issued by a practitioner and may be refilled if authorized.

Drugs under this classification are:

  • Benzodiazepines (temazepam)
  • The benzodiazepine-like Z-drugs: zolpidem (Ambien), zopiclone (Imovane), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Chloral hydrate
  • Long-acting barbiturates
  • Some partial agonist opioid analgesics, such as pentazocine (Talwin)
  • The stimulant-like drug modafinil
  • Difenoxin: It is an anti-diarrheal drug.
  • Motofen: It is an antiperistaltic medication.
  • Tramadol: It is an opioid that is used to treat moderate to severe pain.
  • Carisoprodol: It is a muscle relaxant.

Penalties (except Flunitrazepam)

  • First Offense: A penalty of not more than 3 years and a fine not more than $250,000 if an individual, $1 million if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: A penalty of not more than 6 years and a fine not more than $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if not an individual.

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Schedule V Substances are drugs or other substances that have a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV. The drug or substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV.

Substances classified under Schedule V may only be distributed other than for a medical purpose.

Drugs listed under this classification are:

  • Cough suppressants
  • Preparations containing small amounts of opium or diphenoxylate
  • Some anticonvulsants, such as pregabalin, lacosamide, and retigabine
  • Pyrovalerone
  • Some centrally-acting anti-diarrheals, such as diphenoxylate

Penalties

  • First Offense: A penalty of not more than 1 year and a fine not more than $100,000 if an individual, $250,000 if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: A penalty of not more than 2 years and a fine not more than $200,000 if an individual, $500,000 if not an individual.

Final Word

The importance of knowing the different drug schedules under the Controlled Substances Act cannot be discounted. Make sure that you are aware of the drugs and substances that you and your family may come across with.