Free Consultation

(253) 272-8666

Are you facing
criminal charges?

We will fight to protect you.

Request A Free Evaluation

What Are the Legal Drug Classifications?

Leave a Comment

Under federal law, illegal drugs are classified into different categories based on a number of criteria. These classifications inform potential criminal penalties for drug possession, sale, use, and production. 

State laws often model their own drug laws after these classifications, including Washington state. If you are facing criminal charges for drug crimes in Washington, it is important to know the legal drug classifications and how they could affect your future case. 

Drug Classifications Under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the law that categorizes drugs into five schedules or classifications. If you are facing drug charges on a federal level, the CSA will apply to your case. Washington’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act follows a similar classification structure to the CSA and applies to cases prosecuted on a state level.

Legal drug classifications are based on the drug’s potential for abuse and approval for medical use. For example, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and dependence and Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse.

Schedule I Substances 

Schedule I substances have no currently accepted medical use in the United States and have a high potential for dependency and abuse. Examples include the following.

  • Heroin
  • GHB
  • Ecstasy
  • Peyote
  • Psilocybin
  • LSD

Schedule II Substances 

While Schedule II substances have a currently accepted medical use, they also have a high potential for abuse. If misused, these drugs can lead to severe physical or psychological dependence.

Examples of Schedule II substances include the following.

  • Cocaine
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine
  • Amphetamine
  • Barbiturates
  • Methadone
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone

Schedule III Substances

Schedule III substances have a currently accepted medical use and have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I and II substances. When abused, these drugs may lead to some level of low-to-moderate physical or high psychological dependence.

The following are common examples of Schedule III substances.

  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Buprenorphine
  • Merinol
  • Paregoric

Schedule IV Substances 

Schedule IV substances have a currently accepted medical use and a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs. These drugs may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. Examples include the following.

  • Clonazepam or Klonopin
  • Phenobarbital
  • Chloral hydrate
  • Alprazolam or Xanax
  • Diazepam or Valium

Schedule V Substances

Schedule V substances have a currently accepted medical use and a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV substances. When abused, these drugs result in a physical or psychological dependence that is limited when compared to other substances.

Schedule V substances usually have very small amounts of other controlled substances. For example, cough syrups with small amounts of codeine are considered a Schedule V drug.

VUCSA Drug Charges in Washington State

In Washington state, a drug crime is a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act (VUCSA). Common VUCSA drug charges include the possession, distribution, or manufacturing of controlled substances. 

Drug crimes in Washington are often felonies, while others are misdemeanors. Many factors can influence the severity of VUCSA charges, such as the following. 

  • Your previous criminal history
  • The type and classification of the drug involved
  • The amount of the drug found by law enforcement
  • Whether a weapon was used or in your possession
  • Whether you intended to use or sell the substance

If you are facing VUCSA drug charges in Washington, it is critical to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Contact a Washington criminal defense attorney to discuss your next steps and build a strong defense for your pending case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *