The DEA Drug Schedule for Dummies

Drug Schedule | Just Believer Recovery PA

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The DEA Drug Schedule for Dummies

Scheduled drugs are regulated by federal law and fall under the Controlled Substances Act. There are total of 5 schedules, which basically function as categories. The schedule that a drug receives is based on (a) the substance’s medical use, (b) the substance’s potential for abuse, and (c) dependence liability.The schedules are ranked in this manner, from I-V.

Changes to the drug schedule can be made through proceedings initiated by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Health and Human services, or by petition from others with interest. More information can be found in the DEA publication Drugs of Abuse.

Schedule 1 Drugs

Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, and have no potential medical value, even under medical supervision. Supposed, they cannot be obtained by prescription, and are completely illegal. In the case of marijuana, however, that has obviously changed in several states.

Examples of Schedule I Drugs

  • heroin
  • methaqualone (quaaludes)
  • lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • gamma hydroxybutyic (GHB)
  • marijuana (THC)
  • mescaline
  • MDMA or Ecstasy
  • psilocybin (magic mushrooms)
  • khat (cathinone)
  • bath salts (MDPV)

Authors note: If marijuana has no approved medical use, then why have some states legalized medical marijuana?

Schedule II Drugs

Like the previous drug schedule, Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse. However, the substance is accepted for medical use but are subject to severe restrictions. Also, physical or psychological dependence is possible.

Examples of Schedule II Drugs

  • methampetamine (Adderall)
  • methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • fentanyl (Sublimaze)
  • hydrocodone (Norco)
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • methadone (Dolophine)
  • meperidine (Demerol)
  • oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  • morphine
  • opium
  • codeine
  • cocaine
  • phencyclidine (PCP)


Schedule III

Schedule III drugs have a lower potential for abuse that the prior two drug schedules. The drug has accepted medical value. It may incur psychological dependence, but the chance of physical dependence is low to medium. It includes products containing 90 mg of codeine per dosage or less.

Examples of Schedule III Drugs

  • barbituates
  • anabolic steroids (Depo Testosterone)
  • Tylenol 3 (with codeine)
  • buprenorphine (Suboxone)
  • benzphetamine (Didrex)
  • phendimetrazine
  • ketamine (Special K)

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs have relatively low potential for abuse, especially when compared to other drugs in the previous Schedules. Like Schedule III drugs, it also has accepted medical value. Psychological or physical dependence is low in comparison to upper schedules. Schedule IV drugs are benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety).

Examples of Schedule IV Drugs

  • diazepam (Valium)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • carisoprodol (Soma)
  • clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • midazolam (Versed)
  • temazepam (Restoril)
  • triazolam (Halcion)

Author’s Note: I think it is incorrect that marijuana has more potential for dependence.than these drugs.

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs also have a lower potential for abuse that in other schedules. Again, it has currently accepted medical value. Potential for psychological or physical dependence is limited. Included are cough medicines with codeine.

Examples of Schedule V Drugs

  • cough preparations containing 200 mg of codeine or less per 100 ml or per 100 gm (Robitussin AC, Phenergan with Codeine), and ezogabine

Inclusion of Marijuana and Criticism

There have been several proposals since 1972 to remove marijuana from Schedule I. Advocates for removal argue that it does not meet the Controlled Substances Act requirements. The government is therefore, required by law to permit medical use or remove it from the list altogether.

The U.S. government maintains, however, that marijuana (cannabis) is still dangerous enough to be included as a Schedule I substance.

In November 2012, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced a bill entitled “Respect States and Citizens Rights Act”. This bill was created in hopes of amending the Controlled Substances Act to exclude any state which legalized marijuana, whether medical or recreational.

This bill was re-introduced and assigned to a congressional committee in September, 2015.

If you or someone you know is an addict, please seek help immediately.

Just Believe Recovery is a fully licensed, Joint Commission accredited, comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment center located in Carbondale, Pennsylvania

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