The Skill To Defend You

How does the United States government classify drugs?

The federal government classifies illicit drugs into a variety of categories from Schedule 1 reserved for the most dangerous drugs and Schedule 5 reserved for the least dangerous drugs. Whether you agree with how these drugs are classified, it’s valuable to familiarize yourself with the classifications so you can avoid getting into trouble.

Let’s say, for example, that you were arrested by federal officials for having marijuana in your possession. Indiana residents might be surprised to find out that marijuana is classified among the most dangerous drugs, Schedule 1. According to the federal government, marijuana is just as dangerous as heroin.

Here is how drugs are classified under the different schedules

The U.S. government selected the following drug classifications based on the perceived danger of the drugs in terms of risks that the substances will result in dependency and abuse problems. Here are examples of the different drugs found under Schedules 1 through 5:

  • Schedule 1 drugs: heroin, ecstasy, LSD, psychedelic mushrooms and marijuana.
  • Schedule 2 drugs: methamphetamine, Ritalin, cocaine, Vicodin and Adderall.
  • Schedule 3 drugs: Ketamine, testosterone, steroids, codeine and Tylenol.
  • Schedule 4 drugs: Valium, Ambien, Darvocet, Soma and Xanax.
  • Schedule 5 drugs: Lomotil, Parpectolin, Lyrica, Robitussin and Motofen.

Could the drug schedules ever change?

Changes in perceptions relating to certain drugs could potentially result in changes to how they are scheduled. For example, the public now perceives marijuana as more acceptable than it did in the past. Also, doctors have been prescribing marijuana as a medicine in different states.

In order for the drug schedules to change, Congress would need to pass new legislation. Historically, Congress has stayed out of the drug scheduling process and left it up to the DEA to schedule drugs. However, the legislator did change drug scheduling to include gamma hydroxybutyric acid — a designer drug sometimes used to as a date rape substance — to the list of high schedule drugs in 2000.

Make sure to educate yourself on drug scheduling laws

If you’ve been accused of being in possession of any kind of federally regulated substance, the first thing you’ll want to do is learn about federal drug scheduling laws. This will allow you to assess the potential punishments associated with your offense, which will help inform your choices during your criminal defense process.