Drug charges in California are not all the same: they depend on the nature of the substances that you were charged with possessing, trafficking, or selling. Just because the specific nature of the crime depends on the type of drug involved, though, does not mean that each and every drug is unique, in the eyes of the law. There are thousands of kinds of drugs and thousands more compounds or combinations of them, making it impossible for the law in California to keep them all separate. Instead, California's penal statutes divide them into classifications – which are then called schedules – and order in them in relative severity.
Regardless of the type of drug law that you were charged with violating in Los Angeles, having a skilled drug defense attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
Chemically speaking, the world is full of drugs and chemical substances. However, the law in California only recognizes some of them as being illegal. Many others, like alcohol, are perfectly legal for adults to buy and use.
The ones that are illegal or are otherwise controlled by the government are called controlled substances. These include:
- Illegal drugs, like cocaine
- Prescription drugs, like pain medications
- Drugs that are legal in some circumstances, but illegal in others, like marijuana.
The drugs or chemical substances that are regulated by the State of California are divided into five “schedules” – or categories. These categories make a huge difference in your case if you have been accused of violating California's drug laws. Which schedule the substance belongs in will determine in part the penalties that you can face, should you get convicted.
Schedules of Controlled Drugs
In California, the schedules of controlled substances are based on federal law in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and codified in California's Health and Safety Code §§ 11054 – 11058. Which Schedule a controlled substance falls into depends largely on two factors:
- The potential for the substance to be abused, and
- The accepted medicinal use that a drug has acquired.
Those with low abuse potential and with high medicinal value are likely to be in Schedule V, at the low end of the controlled substances list. Those that have little to no medical value and are very likely to be abused and/or lead to addiction and dependency are found at the other end of the list in Schedules I and II.
Schedule V Drugs
Out of the five categories of controlled substances, those that are in Schedule V of the Health and Safety Code § 11058 are the least severe. They are the least likely of the controlled substances to be abused or lead to severe dependency and have a strongly accepted use in the medical community. They often have relatively severe types of narcotics but in very diluted concentrations. Drugs in Schedule V include:
- Many cough medications with low codeine concentrations (less than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters)
- Robitussin AC
Schedule IV Drugs
Schedule IV drugs are slightly more severe because they have more of a potential for addiction but still retain a significant medically accepted use. Codified in Health and Safety Code § 11057, Schedule IV drugs include a handful of depressants, low dosage narcotics, and stimulants. These include:
Schedule III Drugs
In the middle of the drug schedules are compounds listed in Schedule III. These drugs have a relatively low acceptance in the medical community and have a moderate likelihood of creating an addiction for people who take them regularly. California lists Schedule III drugs in Health and Safety Code § 11056, covering compounds from stimulants to depressants to anabolic steroids to hallucinogens to diluted narcotics. These include:
- Compounds with less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage
Schedule II Drugs
Compounds and other drugs listed in Schedule II, codified in California at Health and Safety Code § 11055, have a significant potential for addiction, dependency, and abuse, and have relatively few legitimate uses in the medical community. Many of these drugs are considered dangerous, especially as the opioid crisis deepens, and include stimulants and depressants in addition to many of the opiates that are responsible for the crisis:
- Amphetamine and methamphetamine
- Precursors to amphetamine and methamphetamine
- Cocaine (except cocaine base, which is a Schedule I drug)
- Oxycodone and OxyContin
- Ritalin and Adderall.
Schedule I Drugs
Finally, there are Schedule I drugs, codified in California at Health and Safety Code § 11054. These compounds have no accepted use in the medical community and present a dangerous risk of addiction for even the very careful. Therefore, California law puts the strictest penalties on those who are accused of a drug crime that involves one of these substances.
Schedule I drugs are dominated by hallucinogens, opiates and their derivatives, and some depressants, and include:
- Pyrrolidine analog of phencyclidine (commonly known as PCP)
- Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (commonly known as LSD)
- 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (commonly known as ecstasy)
- Cocaine base (cocaine in other forms are covered in Schedule II).
Cannabis and marijuana are also included in Schedule I as well. However, unlike many other Schedule I drugs, marijuana is increasingly being noted for its medicinal benefits as well as its inability to make people addicted. It is becoming increasingly possible that marijuana will be removed from Schedule I in the near future.
Los Angeles Drug Defense Attorney William S. Kroger
William S. Kroger is a criminal defense lawyer who represents those facing drug charges in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Regardless of the nature of the drugs or substances that are at the center of your case, you need legal representation to defend against the accusations and to protect your interests and future.
Reach out to attorney Kroger by calling his Los Angeles law office at (323) 655-5700 or by contacting him online for the legal help you need.