What are drug schedules?

Have you ever wondered why some drug offenses seem to be considered more serious than others in Arizona? There are many factors that may contribute to what type of offense a person could be charged with when drugs are involved. One of these is the nature of the drug itself.

As explained by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration department, the law classified controlled substances in very specific categories. These categories are generally referred to as schedules. There are five different schedules of controlled substances. The differences between Schedule I, II, III, IV and V substances include the level of potential for abuse or dependence both physically and psychologically as well as any amount of recognized medical benefit associated with the drug.

Schedule V drugs are recognized as having medical benefit and the least potential for abuse and include things like some cough medicines. Schedule IV drugs may have some but limited abuse potential. Xanax and lorazepam are examples of these drugs. The physical dependence potential with a Schedule III drug may be low or moderate but the psychological dependence potential is high. Both Schedule I and Schedule II drugs may have high potentials for dependence abuse but Schedule I drugs have no recognized medical benefit or use. Schedule II drugs, however, are recognized as medically beneficial in some cases.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give Arizona residents an overview of the way in which different controlled substances are classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.