Drug Classification: What You Should Know

In the 1970’s, our government declared war on drugs. In an effort to end drug addictions and keep Americans happy and healthy, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was signed into law. The law laid out a new labeling system for drugs, as well as what penalties users and distributors should face. This system sorts drugs by how addictive they are and how useful they are medically into different “schedules.” The highest labeled is Schedule I, where the most dangerous and addictive drugs are sorted, and the lowest is Schedule V.

The CSA is subject to state laws, however. Some states have chosen to modify the system, changing where certain drugs are placed, as well as what punishments those found in possession of or selling the drugs should be given. Other states, however, stick to what the federal government laid out in the 1970’s.

Schedule V

Drug Classification What You Should KnowSchedule V is the lowest drug classification. These drugs actually have a medical use and may be prescribed to patients by health care professionals. They have a lower chance of causing addiction than Schedule IV drugs, so are not as tightly regulated, but you can still be charged with prescription drug fraud if you use them illegally. However, with Schedule V drugs, you will likely face minimal penalties if found guilty.

Some common kinds of Schedule V drugs include:

  • Lomotil
  • Ezogabine
  • Motofen

Schedule IV

After Schedule V comes Schedule IV drugs. These drugs still have a medical use, and may be prescribed, like with Schedule V. However, they have a higher chance for abuse and addiction. While the chances are still low when compared to other controlled substances, Schedule IV drugs are still regulated more closely than Schedule V, and the penalties for unlawfully using or distributing these drugs can be harsh.

Commonly used Schedule IV drugs are:

  • Ambien
  • Klonopin
  • Valium

Schedule III

Drugs that have a low-to-moderate potential for addiction and dependency are sorted under the Schedule III label. Schedule III drugs still have medical use but have the potential to be abused. If you sell Schedule III drugs, even if you were lawfully given a prescription for them, the court system will likely treat you very harshly, and the penalties you face could be severe.

There are many Schedule II drugs you recognize, though some of the most common are:

  • Ketamine
  • Vicodin
  • Anabolic steroids

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs are still considered to have a medical use, and may be prescribe if a healthcare professional decides they are necessary. However, they are highly addictive, and even lawful use of them can easily lead to drug abuse. The penalties for unlawfully possessing Schedule II drugs are incredibly harsh, carrying long prison sentences and high fines. The penalties for unlawfully distributing Schedule II drugs are even harsher.

Some Schedule II drugs you may have heard of or even use include:

Schedule I

The label of Schedule I is reserved for drugs with no medical use, and highly addictive qualities. These drugs can be incredibly dangerous and routinely destroy lives. Many of these drugs carry felony charges for those who use them as well as for those who sell them. This means, on top of a harsh prison sentence, you may have certain rights stripped from you. This can include the right to vote, the right to travel abroad, as well as the right to own or use a firearm.

Commonly known Schedule I drugs are:


In 2014, the state of Colorado legalized marijuana. This means that it is no longer a controlled substance within the state and can be bought and used lawfully. Since then, several other states have legalized the drug, including California, Nevada, Vermont, and even Alaska. However, on a federal level, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug, and there are many states that follow the federal guidelines. This includes our neighbors Kansas and Wyoming.

Colorado laws end at our state’s borders. While the legalization of marijuana has been largely successful in our state, you should always keep in mind the intense repercussions you could face once you drive into another state. In addition, there are still strict regulations regarding the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, as well as THC limits when driving, that you must abide by in Colorado.

Drug offenses often carry harsh penalties. For the more serious crimes, such as the distribution of Schedule I drugs, you may be facing decades in jail and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. But everyone deserves proper representation in the United States of America. After all, our justice system is built on the ideal that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. We believe that sentiment whole heartedly at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Colorado, call our firm at (719) 475-2555 and secure the legal representation of a skilled Colorado Springs drug crimes defense attorney.