A Comprehensive Guide To Drug Classifications
How well do you understand the various classifications of drugs? For instance, did you know that the original Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified the regulation of drugs, substances, and chemicals into five schedules. The Act breaks down drugs by their danger, potential for abuse and dependence, and medical use. It’s important to know which drugs fall into which classification.
The difference in charges you’ll be facing if you get caught with a Schedule I drug, like heroin, or a Schedule IV drug, like Xanax, can mean the difference between life in jail and probation.
The main factors that determine the level of offense for possession are:
- Type of drug
- Aggravating circumstances (e.g. intent to distribute or possession in a drug-free zone)
Schedule V and IV
According to the DEA, substances that fall into the Schedule V class have the lowest potential for abuse and dependence. These are drugs you can pick up at your local Walgreens pharmacy. They include cough suppressants, such as Robitussin AC.
Unless getting high on antidiarrheal medicine is your thing, it’s safe to say the need for a prescription is enough security to keep Schedule V drugs out of the wrong hands.
It is unlikely you’ll face simple possession for any drugs in this classification. Well, unless you are caught trafficking. In this case, your fine could range from $100,000 to $250,000, with one-year imprisonment for first offenders. Second offenders could be fined between $200,000 and $500,000, with four years of imprisonment.
Schedule IV drugs have a higher potential for abuse than Schedule V drugs. These are medicinal, and are likely candidates for physical and psychological dependence.
The ones everyone probably knows from this class are benzodiazepines—Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, etc. These are typically prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and a wide range of other conditions. Their effects are generally sedative, hypnotic, and relaxing.
For Xanax and most prescription drugs, here are some charges you could be facing for simple possession:
- Less than 28 Grams: Class A Misdemeanor (up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine)
- 28-200 Grams: 3rd Degree Felony (2-10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine)
- 200-400 Grams: 2nd Degree Felony (2-20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine)
- Over 400 Grams: 1st Felony (5-99 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine)
Schedule III substances skirt the edge between medicinal and recreational. They have a moderate potential for abuse and dependence. These include: anabolic steroids, intermediate-acting barbiturates, dihydrocodeine, and ketamine. Each has a legitimate medical purpose to the law. And each has its method of being abused. Steroids, for instance, are used to stimulate muscle growth in patients with cancer and AIDS. But as we all know, many a baseball player and body-builder have been known to use these substances for reasons that are less than medical.
In Texas, here are the charges you could be facing for simple possession of a Schedule III drug like Ketamine:
- Less than 1 Gram: State Jail Felony
- 1-4 Grams: 3rd Degree Felony
- 4-200 Grams: 2nd Degree Felony
- Over 200 Grams: 1st Degree Felony
Schedule II and I
The most notorious, hardest drugs are lobbed into Schedule II and I. These are substances with high potential for abuse and dependence. The difference is that Schedule II substances still have several accepted medical uses. Schedule I substances have none. One of the most common Schedule I drugs in possession cases is marijuana, a drug legalized for recreational use in Colorado and Oregon, and medical use in 22 other states.
Texas lawmakers, however, are nowhere near as progressive. Here are charges you could face for simple possession:
Less than 2 Oz: Class B Misdemeanor (up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 fine)
- 2-4 Oz: Class A Misdemeanor
- 4 Oz-5 Lbs: State Jail Felony
- 5-50 Lbs: 3rd Degree Felony
- 50-2,000 Lbs: 2nd Degree Felony
- Over 2,000 Lbs: 1st Degree Felony
To put this in perspective, other drugs in Schedule I include:
Schedule II substances are considered high-grade medicinal drugs. These are used for treating many conditions, from ADHD to chronic pain. They include:
Conviction and Aggravating Conditions
In order to actually convict you on a possession charge, the prosecutor must prove a few things first. Prosecutors have to prove that the accused knew they were in possession of a controlled substance and intended to use it in some way. The possession can range from being in your pocket to being in your roommate’s mattress.
Certain situations can escalate or aggravate a simple possession charge to, say, an intent to distribute charge. If the police caught you with a backpack full of marijuana, baggies, a scale, and you just happened to be in a drug-free zone, your offense could jump by one or two degrees.
When in Texas
You know what’s even more confusing? Texas has its own drug classification system. They’re called penalty groups, and the main substances regulated by each one are:
- Penalty Group 1: Heroin, Cocaine, Meth, Ketamine, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone
- Penalty Group 1a: LSD
- Penalty Group 2: Ecstasy, PCP, Mescaline
- Penalty Group 3: Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, Hydrocodone (less than 300 mg)
- Penalty Group 4: Morphine, Motofen, Buprenorphine, Pyrovalerone
Notice how Ketamine, for instance, is ranked higher according to Texas law than according to the Controlled Substances Act. Talk about complicated.
It’s no question that the legal system surrounding controlled substances is so complicated. It’s like you need a degree in pharmacology as well as one in law. With help from an aggressive ACS-CHAL lawyer-scientist like Mark Thiessen, you will understand exactly what charges you’re facing. And how to beat them. Don’t let confusing classifications keep you from getting the verdict you deserve. Contact the Mark Thiessen Law Firm today and get a free consultation.