Federal law lists many drugs that are illegal to possess, sell, distribute or manufacture. Some are allowed if you’re a properly licensed pharmacist, healthcare provider or part of the pharmaceutical industry. Some of these drugs aren’t legal under practically any circumstances; others have recognized pharmaceutical value. Being involved in any illicit activity concerning these substances could result in incarceration for many years, depending on the facts of the situation, under Indiana and federal law.
Drugs and other substances that are considered controlled substances as defined by the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) are divided into five schedules. They are placed in a schedule based on whether they have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S., their potential for abuse, and their likelihood of being habit-forming if abused.
Why schedules matter in federal and Indiana drug laws
The regulation of a drug depends on the schedule it’s listed in. Drugs in schedules one and two have the strictest regulations. Schedule I drugs are illegal for anything other than research. Schedule II drugs can be used for limited medical purposes with DEA approval, such as through a license for prescriptions.
The CSA penalizes the illegal possession, use, manufacture and distribution of controlled substances. Penalties vary, based on the schedule of the drug involved, the amount possessed and whether distribution or intent to distribute a drug is present.
Possible penalties for violating the CSA vary, depending on the schedule in which the drug is listed, the amount possessed and if there’s evidence to support a charge that distribution took place or there’s evidence of intent to distribute the drug. Federal penalties for possession of an illegal drug can include a fine of at least $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.
Federal penalties for a first offense of trafficking a controlled substance in Schedules I-IV range from not less than five years of imprisonment to life. Fines of $250,000 to $50 million may also be imposed. Additional penalties are imposed when trafficking a controlled substance results in serious bodily injury or death. Indiana state law also uses drug schedules when determining the possible penalty after a conviction.
Schedules for controlled substances in federal and Indiana drug law
Schedule I Controlled Substances
They are the most dangerous drugs with no legitimate use, as far as the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is concerned. They have no currently accepted medical use in the U.S., no known safe level of use under medical supervision and have a high potential for abuse.
Examples are heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (known as ecstasy).
Schedule II/IIN Controlled Substances (2/2N)
These substances have a high potential for abuse and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. They are hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®) and fentanyl (Sublimaze®, Duragesic®). Other Schedule II narcotics include morphine, opium, codeine and hydrocodone.
Schedule IIN stimulants include amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®). Other Schedule II substances are amobarbital, glutethimide and pentobarbital.
Schedule III/IIIN Controlled Substances (3/3N)
These substances have less potential for abuse than substances in Schedules I or II. Abuse of them can lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. They include narcotics that include products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with Codeine®) and buprenorphine (Suboxone®). Non-narcotics in this schedule include benzphetamine (Didrex®), phendimetrazine, ketamine and anabolic steroids such as Depo®-Testosterone.
Schedule IV Controlled Substances
These substances have a low potential for abuse compared to those in Schedule III. Examples include alprazolam (Xanax®), carisoprodol (Soma®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®), midazolam (Versed®), temazepam (Restoril®) and triazolam (Halcion®).
Schedule V Controlled Substances
They have a low potential for abuse compared to those in Schedule IV and are made mostly of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. They include cough preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams (Robitussin AC®, Phenergan with Codeine®) and ezogabine.
These schedules are just the beginning in federal and Indiana drug law
Just because a drug, strictly speaking, literally isn’t on a schedule, this doesn’t mean you can’t be charged with possessing, manufacturing or distributing it. The schedules describe the basic or parent chemical. They don’t describe the salts, isomers, salts of isomers, esters, ethers and derivatives which may also be controlled substances.
A substance not on a schedule may also be considered a controlled substance analogue, a substance intended for human consumption that’s . . .
- Structurally substantially similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II substance,
- Pharmacologically substantially similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II substance, or
- Represented as being similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II substance and is not an approved medication.
A crime involving a controlled substance is not to be taken lightly. Given the potential penalties, it’s wise not to try to defend yourself or retain an attorney unfamiliar with drug laws and how they’re enforced. If you or any member of your family has been arrested or charged with a drug-related crime, get help today. Call our office or fill out the contact form on the right for a free consultation. Protect yourself and your family with the seasoned, experienced criminal trial lawyers of your New Albany Legal Team.
Attorney Marc Tawfik
Marc is a Kentucky native, having lived and worked in the state the majority of his life. He is a licensed attorney in Kentucky and Indiana, and his focus is on trial work, including civil litigation and criminal defense. He has represented a wide variety of clients, and he is committed to putting his clients’ needs first. [ Attorney Bio ]