Drug Scheduling In The USA

Like in many countries, the United States has a regulatory system to control the use and availability of substances that can affect the mind and body. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is the foundation of this regulation, classifying five different Schedules of drugs. Depending on how dangerous or medicinal the substances are, their categorization will vary. 

Some holistic, medicinal remedies can find themselves in this Scheduling system, while others are absent. As these types of therapies are not recognized in the same way prescription medications are, their regulation is often drastically different or continually fluctuating. 

The CSA of 1970

Before the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was instated, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the primary drug regulatory authority. The Pure Food and Drug Act was how the FDA was first established, to protect consumers by enforcing standards and regulations concerning various medicines and food. The Pure Food and Drug Act required the labeling of almost all food products stating whether they were dangerous or addictive. 

Once Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, the US government had more flexibility and power to regulate potentially dangerous and addictive stances. There were two main priorities of the Controlled Substances Act:

  1. Establish five separate drug classifications called “Schedules,” each with specific criteria regarding how drugs were regulated and handled according to their Schedule. 
  2. Establish laws to regulate the importation and exportation of controlled substances between the United States and international countries. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA, created in 1972, is one of the governing bodies that enforce the Controlled Substances Act. Other agencies within the government are also involved, like the FDA, NIDA, and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

An Overview Of The Schedules

When the Controlled Substances Act was first passed, the government understood that not all drugs would be dangerous or had the same potential to be abused. While some could be abused if they were taken in large quantities, it could also be therapeutic in small doses. As some drugs could be harmful to some and helpful to others, the Scheduling system helped classify these drugs to allow for greater regulation.

Outlined below is a brief overview of the different schedules and examples of the types of drugs in each. 

Schedule V Drugs:

  • The potential for abuse is low.
  • Accepted medical applications throughout the United States.
  • If drugs were to be used, addiction or dependence would be very limited.
  • Examples of Schedule V drugs are Codeine, Pyrovalerone, and Cannabidiol. 

Schedule IV Drugs:

  • Abuse potential is low but more than drugs in Schedule V.
  • Within the United States, there are various accepted medical applications.
  • These drugs are potentially more addictive than Schedule V drugs, but it is still low or limited. 
  • Examples of Schedule IV drugs are Xanax, Valium, and Restoril.

Schedule III Drugs:

  • Higher potential for abuse than Schedule V and IV.
  • There are accepted medical applications within the United States.
  • If the drug were to be abused, the person would experience a low to moderate dependency physically and high dependency physiologically. 
  • Examples of Schedule III drugs are Codeine in high doses, Caffeine, and Testosterone. 

Schedule II Drugs:

  • The risk of abuse is high, but less than Schedule I.
  • Any accepted medical applications are very limited or only in extreme circumstances
  • Abusing these drugs will result in severe dependencies both physically and psychologically. 
  • Examples of Schedule II drugs are Percocet, OxyContin, and Adderall.

Schedule I Drugs:

  • These drugs have a high risk of being abused. 
  • Within the United States, there are no accepted medical applications. 
  • Using the medicine can be unsafe or dangerous.
  • Examples of Schedule II drugs are LSD, marijuana, and heroin. 

After analyzing the various schedules, one can see that drugs classified in Schedules II through V are widely accepted in the United States and often prescribed by healthcare professionals. On the other hand, Schedule I drugs are completely banned within the United States, are not prescribed, and no consumer can be in possession of them.

Federal VS. State Laws

While substances like marijuana have a federal classification as a Schedule I substance, several states have legalized marijuana use, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes. Anyone using these in countries where it is legal will not receive legal penalization. 

Kratom is a substance that has been getting more attention, but it is still legal in many states. However, in some cities like San Diego, Sarasota, and Denver it is not, there is no federal ban stopping Kratom sales, so consumers can purchase it here regardless of the laws in other states. 

When you are buying Kratom, make sure that you are doing so from a reputable dealer as you want to ensure you are getting the highest quality product out there. A reputable dealer will also be lab testing, which means there will be no contaminants. 

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