The system by which drugs are regulated in Florida is based upon classifications put forth by the Federal government that divides those drugs into various levels of severity and potency. What follows is a discussion of those classifications and what you need to know about controlled substance classifications if you should ever find yourself facing drug charges in Florida.
Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the Federal government classifies all drugs into five categories, or “schedules,” which are grouped by regulators according to their perceived medical use, addictiveness, and potential for abuse. Although the categories do not change, the drugs in those categories are reviewed and updated each year. In most states, including Florida, the schedule a drug falls under greatly affects the severity of the crime and the possible punishment if a conviction results.
Schedule I substances are those that regulators believe have a high potential for abuse, no currently approved medical use, and are unacceptably dangerous if used in a medical setting. Included in this category are
- cannabinoids (including marijuana),
- ecstasy, and
Although LSD is experiencing a resurgence in study by mainstream medical researchers, it remains illegal to possess by the general public. Peyote has been recognized as an important part of Native American religious ceremonies by the Federal courts, but its possession and use outside of those auspices is also illegal. Many states, including Florida, have instituted medical marijuana programs over the past several years, but the status of those programs under Federal law is often murky, and possession and use of cannabis outside of that program remains illegal under Florida state law.
The next lower classification of controlled substances under Federal law is Schedule II, which are substances that lawmakers say have a high potential for abuse and may lead to significant psychological or physical dependency. However, drugs in this category have an accepted medical use in the United States. Drugs in this category include
- morphine, and
Below that are the Schedule III drugs. These drugs stimulate the nervous system but are considered to have a high potential for psychological dependence despite having a low potential for physical dependence. Drugs in this category include
- acetaminophen with codeine, and
- anabolic steroids.
Lower down the list are Schedule IV drugs. These drugs are considered to be less prone to abuse than Schedule III drugs and include
- Ativan, and
Generally Schedule III and Schedule IV drugs are regulated similarly.
The lowest category of controlled substance are Schedule V drugs. In this category are certain narcotics and cough syrups with codeine. Some of the Schedule V drugs are restricted to prescription only, while others are available over the counter.
Cannabis is a Schedule I drug that has seen a major shift in legality over the past couple of decades. Although under Federal law it is illegal to possess or traffic, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized its use for recreational purposes. A further 13 states have decriminalized it in small amounts. Only Nebraska has no provisions for legal use of cannabis for either medical or recreational purposes.