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What Are Drug Schedules?

Despite California’s push toward greater marijuana reform, drug crimes in the state still carry harsh legal penalties. However, not every drug is treated the same under the law. Drug crime offenses in California are categorized into what is known as a “drug schedule,” which is based on the U.S. Controlled Substance Act.

According to the California Health and Safety Code § 11053-11058, each substance falls into a specific category of the drug schedule, which then carries a penalty range. The schedules are as follows, starting with the highest potential for abuse: Schedule l, Schedule ll, Schedule lll, Schedule lV, Schedule V.

California adopted its drug schedules to conform to federal ones—so if you’re familiar at all with federal drug schedules, then this statewide classification will also look familiar.

Schedule l

Schedule l drugs are considered to be the most dangerous or addictive and therefore carry the most serious consequences. They are most likely to lead to abuse and codependency, and most lack a proper medical use.

Drugs in this schedule are mostly opioids, hallucinogens, and depressants, some of which include:

  • Cocaine base

  • Ecstasy

  • Peyote

  • Heroin

  • PCP

  • Mescaline

  • Marijuana (however, this substance is legal in California)

Schedule ll

These drugs are considered to have few, if any, medical uses and carry a high potential for abuse. Schedule ll drugs consist of stimulants, depressants, and some opioids, which may include:

  • Amphetamine

  • Methamphetamine

  • Barbitals

  • Opium

  • Ritalin

  • Adderall

  • Codeine

  • Hydrocodone

  • OxyContin

  • Morphine

  • Vicodin

  • Cocaine

Schedule lll

Substances in Schedule lll may have some addictive qualities and often have little medical use. From steroids to stimulants, these include a wide range of substances, including:

  • Steroids

  • Ketamine

  • Testosterone

  • Benzphetamine

  • Clortermine

  • Mazindol

  • Lysergic acid

  • Pentobarbital

  • Nalorphine

Schedule lV

While Schedule IV substances have a low-abuse potential and substantial medical value, they can be harmful in large amounts and lead to a drug charge. Some examples include:

  • Ativan

  • Ambien

  • Fenfluramine

  • Phentermine

  • Pemoline

  • Xanax

  • Tramadol

Schedule V

Schedule V drug charges carry the lowest penalties compared to other schedules. In general, these substances are considered legal and carry a lower risk of addiction. Many substances that fall under this category are used in cough medications and a number of other prescription drugs. Some examples include:

  • Codeine

  • Dihydrocodeine

  • Ethylmorphine

  • Diphenoxylate

  • Difenoxin

  • Buprenorphine

Those who have been arrested or charged with a drug crime in California are urged to contact a seasoned criminal defense attorney who can review your case for free and determine what your best options are for reducing the potential ramifications.

At Schweitzer & Davidian, our Fresno legal team is a force to be reckoned with and we have the results to show for it. Please do not hesitate to reach out at (559) 206-2322 at your earliest convenience to protect your freedom and future.