Control and Variable Groups

Define Controlled


Generally, a controlled substance is an illegal drug that can have a detrimental effect on a person's health and welfare. As a result, state and federal governments have seen fit to regulate these substances. A person caught possessing a controlled substance can be fined and held in prison by local, state, and federal law enforcement.

However, not all controlled substances are illegal in all circumstances - many are prescribed to the general public and sold through pharmacies and dispensaries for legitimate medical treatment. To determine if a particular drug is legal, you should refer to the federal controlled substance schedules. Read on to learn more about the different controlled substances schedules and how state and federal governments enforce controlled substance laws.

Controlled Substance Schedules: Which Drugs Can I Legally Possess?

The federal government defines a controlled substance as any of the substances listed in the schedules of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA). The schedules are broken down into five categories:

  • Schedule I – These substances have no accepted medical use, are unsafe, and hold a high potential for abuse. Examples include heroin, LSD, marijuana, peyote, and ecstasy.
  • Schedule II – These narcotics and stimulants have a high potential for abuse and engender severe psychological or physical dependence. Examples include Dilaudid, methadone, Demerol, OxyContin, Percocet, morphine, opium, codeine, amphetamine (Dexedrine, Adderall), and methamphetamine
  • Schedule III – These are substances that have less potential for abuse but can still lead to moderate or low physical dependence and high psychological dependence. They include Vicodin, Tylenol/Codeine, Suboxone, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule IV – These ubstances have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, and include Xanax, Soma, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, Versed, Restoril, and Halcion.
  • Schedule V – These are primarily preparations that contain limited quantities of narcotics, including cough syrups that contain codeine.


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