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Federal Drug Scheduling: What You Need to Know

Posted on in Federal Crimes

Drug trafficking is a state and federal crime, which carries severe consequences for offenders. A charge of drug trafficking may include the manufacturing, delivery, and sale of anything deemed a “controlled substance.” Drug trafficking laws can be highly complex, depending on which controlled substances and how much of them are involved in any given case. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) divides controlled substances into 5 schedules, based on the danger and effects of various drugs. As the schedules of these drugs vary, so do the penalties attached to them.

Federal Drug Trafficking Scheduling and Penalties

Federal drug scheduling breaks down controlled substances into the following categories:

  • Schedule I Substances: Schedule I drugs are considered dangerous substances with no widely accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. Under federal U.S. law, this includes drugs such as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, PCP, methaqualone (or Quaaludes,) peyote, and marijuana.
  • Schedule II Substances: Schedule II drugs are considered dangerous substances with high potential for abuse and which have a high chance of causing psychological and/or physical dependence. Under U.S. law, this includes drugs such as Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, Dilaudid, Demerol, OxyContin, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.
  • Schedule III Substances: Schedule III drugs are considered potentially dangerous substances with a medium chance for abuse and medium chance of causing psychological and/or physical dependence. Schedule III substances include ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine.
  • Schedule IV Substances: Schedule IV drugs are considered potentially dangerous substances with a low chance for abuse and a low chance of causing psychological and/or physical dependence. Schedule IV substances include Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, and Tramadol.
  • Schedule V Substances: Schedule V drugs are considered potentially dangerous drugs with a low potential for abuse and which contain limited quantities of narcotics. Schedule IV substances include Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin, and cough medicines with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters.

Federal penalties for trafficking high quantities of drugs are divided into several levels:

  • For charges related to smaller amounts of most Schedule I and Schedule II substances: A first offense may be punishable with a fine up to $5 million and/or a jail sentence ranging between 5 and 40 years in prison. A second offense may be punishable by a fine up to $8 million and/or a jail sentence ranging between 10 years and life in prison.
  • For charges related to larger amounts of most Schedule I and Schedule II substances: A first offense may be punishable with a fine up to $10 million and/or a jail sentence ranging between 10 years and life in prison. A second offense may be punishable with up to $20 million in fines and/or a jail sentence ranging between 20 years and life and prison. A third offense may be punishable by $20 million in fines and/or a jail sentence of life in prison.
  • For charges related to Schedule I and II substances less severe than drugs including heroin, meth, cocaine, fentanyl, and LSD: A first offense may be punishable with a fine up to $1 million and/or a jail sentence of up to 20 years in prison. A second offense may be punishable with a fine up to $2 million and/or a jail sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
  • For charges related to any amount of Schedule III substances: A first offense may be punishable with a fine up to $500,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 10 years in prison. A second offense may be punishable with up to $1 million in fines and/or up to 20 years in prison.
  • For charges related to any amount of Schedule IV substances: A first offense may be punishable with a fine up to $250,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 5 years in prison. A second offense may be punishable with a fine up to $500,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
  • For charges related to any amount of Schedule V Substances: A first offense may be punishable with a fine up to $100,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 1 year in prison. A second offense may be punishable by a fine up to $100,000 and up to 4 years in prison.

What if Federal Drug Scheduling Conflicts with State Laws?

Although the federal government regulates drugs based on DEA scheduling, different states often have additional rules that conflict with federal standards. The most common example of this is the use of marijuana, which has been decriminalized, and even legalized in many states. In Texas, for instance, limited amounts of medical marijuana are legal, though possession of this substance is still likely to be considered a misdemeanor in most cases. The sale of marijuana, meanwhile, is often considered a felony, depending on the quantity of the drug involved. In general, the fate of your case, whether it is related to marijuana or not, may depend on whether you receive state or federal charges. If you are charged with a federal drug offense, or a federal drug offense in addition to a state drug offense, it is especially imperative that you contact a federal criminal defense attorney immediately.

Contact The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. Today

At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we represent clients charged with federal crimes. From drug trafficking and conspiracy to fraud and white collar offensesour attorney has the skills and experience necessary to fight for you in court. We have a history of securing favorable results for clients, and have helped many people across the state of Texas reclaim their life and reputation. Hire our Plano criminal defense lawyer from The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., and take the first step towards freedom today.

Call now at 214-303-9600, or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Spanish-speaking services are also available.

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