Understanding the ways in which the government classifies drugs will give you an understanding of why certain drugs are punished more severely than others. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) set up a classification system that organizes drugs based on their addictiveness and potential for abuse.
The drug schedules go like this:
- Schedule V. These are your "less harmful" drugs. They have a low incidence of addiction and have genuine medicinal benefits for users. Schedule V drugs could include codeine cough syrup or ezogabine.
- Schedule IV. The government considers schedule IV drugs as a low risk for addiction and abuse, and acknowledge that they can be used for medicinal purposes (and are available by prescription). Examples include Ambien, Xanax and Valium.
- Schedule III. Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids and marinol; drugs that can be procured with a prescription but have a moderate risk of abuse and addiction.
- Schedule II. This category includes drugs that the federal government considers highly addictive but that still have legitimate medical uses. These include things like methadone, morphine and adderall.
- Schedule I. Get caught with schedule I drugs and you're looking at potentially severe penalties. Schedule I includes drugs like ecstasy, heroin and marijuana, which have a high chance of abuse.
It goes without saying that, with each subsequent tier comes increased penalties. These can include everything from simple fines to extended, all-expenses-paid trips to prison. For that reason, if you're facing drug charges in Louisiana, it might be in your best interest to speak with an attorney about building a defense.