Legalize It!

Cannabis has long been a substance drawing much attention within the international drug control regime, a system currently based upon the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Today the regime landscape is changing. Faced with particular challenges and democratic decisions, a number of jurisdictions are moving beyond merely tolerant approaches to the possession of cannabis for personal use to legally regulating markets for the drug. In November 2012 voters within the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington passed ballot initiatives to tax and regulate cannabis cultivation, distribution and consumption for non-medical purposes. Just over a year later, Uruguay legislated state regulation of the entire chain of the domestic cannabis market for medical, industrial and recreational use. These policy shifts go well beyond the permitted prohibitive boundaries of the UN drug control conventions. They represent a break with an historical trajectory founded on dubious science and political imperatives. And they have thrown the global regime into a state of crisis. ~The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition. (Authors: Dave Bewley-Taylor Tom Blickman Martin Jelsma- Transnational Institute (TNI).

Definition of Controlled Substance Schedules

Drugs and other substances that are considered controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) are divided into five schedules.  An updated and complete list of the schedules is published annually in Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) §§ 1308.11 through 1308.15.  Substances are placed in their respective schedules based on whether they have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, their relative abuse potential, and likelihood of causing dependence when abused.  Some examples of the drugs in each schedule are listed below.

Schedule I Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.

Some examples of substances listed in Schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“Ecstasy”).

Schedule II/IIN Controlled Substances (2/2N)

Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Examples of Schedule II narcotics include: hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®), and fentanyl (Sublimaze®, Duragesic®).  Other Schedule II narcotics include: morphine, opium, codeine, and hydrocodone.

Examples of Schedule IIN stimulants include: amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®).

Other Schedule II substances include: amobarbital, glutethimide, and pentobarbital.

Schedule III/IIIN Controlled Substances (3/3N)

Substances in this schedule have a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Examples of Schedule III narcotics include: products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with Codeine®), and buprenorphine (Suboxone®).

Examples of Schedule IIIN non-narcotics include: benzphetamine (Didrex®), phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids such as Depo®-Testosterone.

Schedule IV Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse relative to substances in Schedule III.

Examples of Schedule IV substances include: alprazolam (Xanax®), carisoprodol (Soma®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), clorazepate (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®), midazolam (Versed®), temazepam (Restoril®), and triazolam (Halcion®).

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse relative to substances listed in Schedule IV and consist primarily of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics.

Examples of Schedule V substances include: cough preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams (Robitussin AC®, Phenergan with Codeine®), and ezogabine.


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