California Drug Schedules and Controlled Substances

Drug crimes in California can vary in severity depending on the amount and type of drug a person may be in possession of. While it is impossible to classify every single drug and chemical compound available today, the state of California has classified these drugs into different categories. Learn how the California Controlled Substance Schedule works, how it can influence a drug crime case, and why you should seek the help of a drug crime defense attorney if you are facing charges.

What Is Considered a Controlled Substance?

Controlled substances are those that have been determined to be illegal by the government due to their potential for abuse. These substances often have depressant, stimulant, or hallucinogenic effects.

The manufacturing, possession, use, and distribution of controlled substances are regulated by both federal and state laws. Controlled substances can include a range of chemical compounds, from over-the-counter cough medication to dangerous street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.

California has a classification system for controlled substances based on federal laws. These classifications are called "schedules" and are organized into five different categories.

What Is the California Drug Schedule?

The California Drug Schedule is part of the California Health and Safety Code and classifies controlled substances into five different schedules. The placement of a drug in a particular schedule depends on two main factors. The first factor is the likelihood of the drug being abused, and the second factor is whether the drug has any acceptable medical use.

Understanding the five different schedules of controlled substances is extremely important, as drug crime charges are directly impacted by the type of drug the individual is charged with possessing. For example, a person charged with possession of a Schedule V drug will likely be facing much less severe penalties than someone charged with a drug crime involving a Schedule I drug.

What Are the Five Different Schedules of Narcotics?

The California drug schedule is divided into five different categories. Schedule V contains the least severe controlled substances, and Schedule I contains the most severe substances with the highest potential for abuse.

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs include substances that have a low probability of abuse and are routinely prescribed for medical purposes. Schedule V drugs can include diluted concentrations of narcotics (such as certain cough medications) and other commonly prescribed substances.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs are still considered to be medically accepted and routinely prescribed but have a more significant potential for addiction. Examples include antidepressants, certain types of pain medications, and stimulants.

Schedule III

Schedule III substances are those with a higher potential of creating addiction. Many of these drugs are not typically prescribed for medicinal purposes and are considered moderately dangerous. Schedule III drugs include ketamine, methenolone, and nalorphine.

Schedule II

Substances listed as Schedule II drugs have very few accepted uses in the medical community and pose a high risk of dependency and abuse. Opiate-based pain medications such as Oxycodone, Fentanyl, and Codeine, as well as illegal drugs such as cocaine, are examples of Schedule II drugs.

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and pose an extremely high risk of addiction and dependency. Heroin, PCP, ecstasy, and cocaine base are examples of Schedule I drugs.

Possession, distribution, and manufacturing of Schedule I drugs are serious offenses and can often result in felony charges. Interestingly enough, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug in California in spite of being recently legalized for adult recreational use, meaning anyone in possession of marijuana amounts exceeding the legal limit of 28.5 grams of cannabis flower or 8 grams of concentrate could be facing criminal charges.

How Can an Attorney Help if I Am Facing Possession Charges?

If you are facing drug possession charges or any other type of drug crime charges, reach out to a drug crime defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you build your case and negotiate a better outcome with the prosecution. The Hurwitz Law Group can assist you with a variety of criminal defense cases. Contact our legal team at 323-310-9677 to discuss your case.

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