The distribution of prescription drugs by someone other than a pharmacist or the possession of prescription drugs obtained without a valid prescription is against the law and could lead to criminal sanctions. In cases involving federal charges, drug crime penalties vary based on what type or “schedule” the drug falls under in federal law.
Does the drug have an acceptable medical use?
Federal law considers some drugs to have no medical value and pose the risk of serious addiction or abuse. These are classified as Schedule I drugs. Some examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD.
Some drugs have medical value but still could cause serious addiction or abuse. These are classified as Schedule II drugs. Some examples of Schedule II drugs include Vicodin, Demerol and OxyContin.
Other drug schedules
Schedule III drugs have a medium to low propensity for addiction and abuse; lower than Schedule II drugs but greater than Schedule IV drugs. Tylenol with codeine and ketamine are two examples of Schedule III drugs.
Schedule IV drugs have a low propensity for addiction and abuse; lower than Schedule III drugs. Xanax, Valium and Tramadol are all examples of Schedule IV drugs.
Schedule V drugs are the lowest level of classified drugs. They include substances that have a limited amount of narcotics in them. Robitussin AC and Parepectolin are two examples of Schedule V drugs.
Drug schedules and penalties
Crimes involving Schedule I drugs have stiffer penalties than drugs listed as Schedule II or higher. Drug crimes include possession, manufacture and distribution. If you are facing drug charges related to prescription drugs, you will want to make sure you understand what you are being charged with, so you can make informed decisions regarding your case.