While most people in Colorado know that it is illegal to possess dangerous street drugs, they may be surprised to find out that, under certain circumstances, it is illegal to possess seemingly innocuous drugs, like cough syrup. Federal law recognizes that some drugs are extremely detrimental to one's health and welfare. Thus, when it comes to drug charges, it is important to understand how federal law classifies various drugs based on the danger they pose.
Under federal law, there are five schedules of controlled substances. Schedule I drugs include marijuana, heroin and LSD and are deemed unsafe, with a high propensity for abuse and no accepted medical purpose. Schedule II drugs include certain narcotics and stimulants, including morphine, hydrocodone and methamphetamine. They are deemed to have a high propensity for abuse and can create a severe dependence, either psychological or physical.
Schedule III drugs are those that do not have as great a propensity for abuse as Schedule I or Schedule II drugs but can still cause a high dependence. Tylenol with codeine and anabolic steroids are examples of Schedule III drugs.
Schedule IV drugs are those that do not have as great a propensity for abuse as Schedule III drugs, but still have a potential for abuse. Schedule IV drugs include Xanax and Valium. Finally, Schedule V drugs are those substances that have limited quantities of narcotics. One example of a Schedule V drug is cough medicine with codeine.
It is important to understand that state laws may have different classifications of these drugs. However, for federal purposes, the penalties for drug crimes depend on what drug is at issue and how much. Under federal law, certain crimes involving one schedule of drugs can be penalized differently than other crimes involving that same schedule of drugs.
Those facing federal drug charges will want to ensure they understand the elements of the charges against them, as well as the penalties they face, so they can make informed decisions regarding their defense. A conviction on a federal drug charge can change the entire course of a person's life, even after they have paid their debt to society. Thus, it is important that those accused of committing federal drug offenses develop a solid defense strategy that will protect their interests both now and in the future.