Like all states, California schedules controlled substances based on multiple factors, including the level of addictiveness.
When making judgments in drug cases, the court considers the type of drug, the amount in possession and the person’s history of offenses.
Five schedules of drugs
There are five schedules of controlled substances. Schedule I drugs, such as heroin and opiates, have a high abuse potential and are unsafe to use without medical consent. Schedule II drugs, such as morphine, have high abuse potential, but some can treat chronic pain.
Schedule III drugs, such as benzphetamine, have a lower potential for abuse than I and II. Many have approved medical uses. Schedule IV drugs, such as barbital, are less likely to lead to abuse, but possession in large amounts and abusive use can result in drug charges. Schedule V drugs mostly require a prescription and could be dangerous when abused for something other than the intended use.
Most possession charges in California are misdemeanors with a penalty of up to a year in jail in accordance with Proposition 47. This includes Schedule 1 opiates, depressants, cocaine bases, and synthetic cannabis. However, Proposition 47’s reduction to penalties is not available to people convicted of certain violent crimes or registered sex offenders.
Penalties for marijuana
California legalized the recreational use of marijuana under certain conditions. However, there are penalties for possession under these conditions:
- In an open container inside a vehicle
- Around or in a school
- In quantities of more than 28.5 grams
California has some of the most lenient penalties for drug offenses.