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Federal Drug Classification Laws Explained

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Federal drug classification laws can be complex and daunting. Understanding the intricacies of these laws is crucial, as they determine the legal status of various substances and can have significant implications for individuals and businesses alike. Whether you're facing drug-related charges, seeking clarification on regulations, or looking to ensure compliance with federal laws, having a knowledgeable attorney by your side is essential.

At the Touma Law Group, we specialize in federal drug classification laws and provide legal representation to clients across the greater Columbia area. Our experienced attorneys understand the nuances of these laws and are dedicated to protecting your rights and interests.

From offering comprehensive legal advice to crafting effective defense strategies, we're here to guide you through every step of the process. Don't navigate federal drug laws alone – contact our Columbia drug defense lawyers today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call us today at (803) 879-4499.

Controlled Substances Act

The Controlled Substances Act was established in 1970 by the United States Federal Government. Under this act, many substances within the categories of stimulants, depressants, narcotic drugs, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, and other prescription drugs must be monitored by a federal agency.

Learn More: Why You Should Hire a Lawyer for Drug Charges

This means that the government is responsible for supervising every step of the process from production to distribution of the drugs. State to state, this is often done by the Health and Human Services Department to ensure that any state-specific regulations are being met.

Even within this act, there are multiple additional categories:

  • Schedule I
  • Schedule II/IIN
  • Schedule III/IIIN
  • Schedule IV
  • Schedule V Drugs

Each of these categories has different restrictions on it. 

Schedule I Controlled Substances

Schedule I Controlled Substances have one of the highest levels of drug enforcement administration. They are considered dangerous drugs and have no current medical purposes in terms of human consumption. They have high abuse potential and have criminal penalties if you are caught using them or with these types of drugs in your possession.

a man holding a baggie with heroin in it

To protect public health, no doctor in the United States is allowed to prescribe any of the drugs in this category. Drugs in this category include heroin and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) along with several other, less common substances. 

Schedule II/IIN Controlled Substances (2/2N)

The next category is Schedule II Controlled Substances. Just like Schedule I drugs, these drugs are considered to be extremely addictive, with a high dependency potential for abuse. This can create both physical dependence and psychological dependence on the substance, causing harm to the person using it. The difference is that they do have approved medical purposes and can be used safely if done in a controlled medical setting with the correct dosage units.

To legally obtain anything from this classification of drugs, you will need a valid prescription from your doctor. In many states, electronic prescriptions are not acceptable and you will need an original, handwritten prescription. You will also need a new prescription for each and every refill that you get. All of these measures are in place to try and reduce the amount of dangerous drugs that the United States Drug Enforcement Administration has to deal with. 

Drugs in this category include meth, cocaine, fentanyl, medical marijuana, oxycodone, and Adderall. Of course, there are many others in this category as well, but these examples are the most well-known. 

Schedule III/IIIN Controlled Substances (3/3N)

Moving on down a little bit, we have Schedule III Controlled Substances. These drugs have a medical purpose and are considered safe when used appropriately. They have a moderate potential for abuse which is heightened when they are taken at more than the recommended dosage units. 

FAQ: Can You Get Drug Charges Dropped?

To acquire this medication you will need a valid substance prescription that was written within the last 6 months. You will also only be allowed 5 refills before you have to go back for a new prescription. The goal of this regulation is to prevent the patient from having more than the required number of dosage units in their possession. 

Examples of these drugs include anything with less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage, anabolic steroids, ketamine, and testosterone. 

Schedule IV Controlled Substances

Next, we have Schedule IV Controlled Substances. These drugs have medical uses and are considered very safe in the grand scheme of things. They have low levels of risk for physical dependence and have limited potential for abuse. This means that overall, the regulations surrounding this drug scheduling are much more relaxed and doctors do not have to jump through as many hoops to prescribe them. 

Learn More: Understanding Prescription Drug Charges in SC

However, there are some hoops to jump through for the person being prescribed the drug. Once you have a valid prescription for the medication, you will only be allowed 5 refills or for 6 months, whichever comes first. After that, you will have to return to the doctor to show that you still need the drug. If you have demonstrated a continued, as is the case with chronic pain, you will be given a new valid prescription for another 5 refills or 6 months. 

Some of the drugs in the Schedule IV category include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Darvon, and Tramadol. 

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Finally, we have the Schedule V drug products. These drugs have an even lower abuse potential than the other prescription drugs mentioned in this article. This is because they can only have a limited amount of narcotic drugs in the chemical structure. 

a woman pouring cough medicine into a spoon

This type of drug can typically be refilled as long as you have a prescription from the doctor, but oftentimes, the drug laws will give you a limit on the number of times that you can refill it. This is to help prevent a drug transaction from occurring where someone would resell the drug to someone who does not have the original prescription for it.

Some examples of Schedule V substances include cough suppressants and syrups, Lyrica, Motofen, and Parepectolin. 

Exempted Prescription Products

Many prescription drugs are not in any of these drug schedules and are considered exempt from the United States Controlled Substances Act. They are not included by the drug enforcement agency because they have a practically non-existent potential for abuse and are not considered to be dangerous substances if taken at approved dosage units. 

If you are curious about whether or not your specific medication is an exempted product or not, you can find the full list on the United States Department of Justice Website. You can also speak to your healthcare provider who should be able to tell you what the specific drug policies are in your area. 

What to Do if You Are Arrested for Drug Charges

If you have been arrested for having illegal drugs, it is crucial to contact an experienced legal team as quickly as possible. The consequences of federal charges can be severe and can often be permanently placed on your record, meaning that one mistake can lead to lifelong consequences. 

Our talented team of federal defense attorneys in Columbia, SC, understand the impact that drug charges can have on someone's life and will do everything in their power to build a strong defense for your case. If you or someone you know is facing drug charges, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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