What Are Drug Schedules?

Photo of an orange medication bottle tipped on its side, white pills spilled out.

The classification of drugs is an important factor when it comes to charges and sentencing for drug-related offenses. In Minnesota, drug classifications are determined by their potential for abuse, medical value, and the severity of potential harm. These substances are divided into five categories or schedules, ranging from I to V. If found guilty of illegal possession, sale, distribution, or manufacture of these controlled substances, the penalties can vary depending on several factors, such as the quantity of the drug and the defendant's criminal record.

The Five Drug Schedules

Schedule I Drugs

Schedule I Drugs are considered to have the highest potential for abuse and no recognized medical value. Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and Peyote.

Schedule II Drugs

Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse, but the drug, or its compound, does have some recognized medical value. Examples of Schedule II drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription opioids like OxyContin and Adderall.

Schedule III Drugs

Schedule III drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I and II drugs, a currently accepted medical use, and a moderate risk of physical or psychological dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids, codeine, and ketamine.

Schedule IV and V drugs have lower potential abuse than Schedule I, II, and III drugs and are often used for legitimate medical purposes.

Schedule IV Drugs

Schedule IV drugs are considered potentially addictive and may be prescribed by a doctor. Examples include most prescriptions, like Xanax, Soma, Ambien, and Valium.

Schedule V Drugs

Schedule V drugs are considered slightly addictive or non-addictive and may be sold over the counter. Examples include off-the-shelf medications, such as pain relievers and cough medicines.

Additional Factors to Consider When Determining Penalties

It is important to note that drug classification is not the only factor that impacts sentencing and charges in drug-related offenses. The amount of the drug in question, previous criminal history, and intent to sell or distribute can also play a significant role. Additionally, depending on the circumstances, certain drug offenses may be handled in drug court or through diversion programs rather than through the traditional criminal justice system.

Related Reading

Definitions and Penalties for First- to Fifth-Degree Controlled Substance Crimes

Sale of a Controlled Substance & Sentencing

Having an understanding of drug classifications can be beneficial in understanding the potential repercussions that could result from a drug-related offense.

Minneapolis Drug Crime Attorneys

If you are facing charges for a crime related to controlled substances, it is important to understand your rights and the Minnesota laws governing drug offenses.

Speak with an experienced drug crime attorney in Minneapolis who can review the facts of your case, advise you on possible legal remedies, and help protect your rights. Depending on your situation and the allegations against you, there may be various options available, including plea deals or motions to dismiss the case. An attorney familiar with the state's sentencing guidelines can assist you in developing the strongest argument for your defense. Establishing a strong defense is integral for a favorable outcome in any criminal case; consulting early with an experienced lawyer may make all the difference when it comes down to getting the best result possible.

At Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A., we serve clients in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the greater Minnesota area. Joseph Tamburino, one of our lead attorneys, is board certified by the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a legal specialist in criminal law — an achievement only 3% of attorneys can claim. Simply put, we have what it takes to protect you. We are here to help you know where you stand and what to do next.

To schedule your FREE no-obligation consultation, call us at (612) 444-5020 or fill out our online contact form. WE ARE AVAILABLE TO SPEAK WITH YOU 24/7.

We invite you to take a look at our client reviews and track record to see for yourself why we’re Minnesota’s premier law firm.

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