If you are facing charges due to a drug-related offense, it is important to pore over the details of the case, understand your legal options and familiarize yourself with various terms. The penalties for a drug case depend on multiple factors, such as the amount of drugs involved, the type of substance and other issues (such as drug activity occurring at a school).
The federal government groups drugs into different schedules, and this can affect the potential penalties you face due to a drug-related offense.
Reviewing the five drug schedules
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal government groups drugs into five schedules, from Schedule I to Schedule I drugs, which have a high likelihood of abuse and do not have an accepted medical purpose, include heroin, ecstasy, LSD and marijuana (under federal law).
Schedule II drugs include many opiates, such as Vicodin, as well as stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Schedule III drugs include Codeine and anabolic steroids, Schedule IV drugs include Xanax and Ambien and Schedule V drugs include cough medicines such as Robitussin.
Reviewing the consequences of drug charges
Charges involving Schedule I drugs are generally far more serious than charges involving Schedule V drugs. For example, those facing charges involving Schedule I drugs often face time behind bars and stiff financial penalties, while those charged with an offense involving Schedule V substances often face much lighter penalties.
Note that in California, some people do not face charges related to marijuana use, even though federal law treats marijuana as a Schedule I drug.