As explained by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), drug schedules help categorize intoxicating substances. Accordingly, drug schedules often play a role in the type of sentence a person receives if convicted for drug possession or use.
Drug schedules range from I to V, with I being the most dangerous drugs and V being the least. Here is how drug scheduling works.
Includes substances like marijuana, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and others. These substances carry a high risk of dependency or abuse. They also lack an accepted medical usage.
Schedule II drugs include cocaine, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. Legal medications such as Adderall, Demerol, OxyContin, Vicodin, and Dilaudid also fall under Schedule II. While these substances also carry a great risk of dependency or abuse, they also have some accepted medical usage.
Includes ketamine, anabolic steroids, and any substance containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine. These substances have a lower risk of dependency or abuse.
Prescription medications like Ativan, Xanax, Ambien, Tramadol, and Valium are in Schedule VI. Their potential for abuse and physical and mental dependency are much lower than the other substances listed here.
Schedule V have the lowest risk according to the DEA. This includes drugs like over-the-counter cough syrup and nerve pain medications, including Lyrica.
Even if a substance is legally prescribed, it can still land you in legal trouble. For example, only the prescribed can ingest and possess a medication. If a person has a legal medication and cannot prove it is theirs via a legal prescription, law enforcement can arrest and charge them.