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Drug classifications: Do you have a medical use for that?

Various drugs fall under the taboo umbrella of controlled substances. But a controlled substance can vary greatly in terms of regulations compared to another controlled substance. In fact, you probably know that the U.S. criminal justice system classifies drugs quite specifically.

How does the drug classification work and why is it set up the way it is? Lawmakers in the U.S. as well as in individual states classify drugs in order to set up potential legal consequences according to the system. Someone caught in illegal possession of a Schedule II drug would face "x" consequence, while someone caught in illegal possession of a Schedule V substance would face "y."

What is a Schedule II drug versus a Schedule V drug? The system assigns a schedule to a substance depending on its level of danger. Does the substance pose a serious health risk such as addiction? On the other side of that classification scale is the question of whether a substance has legitimate beneficial medical uses in society.

According to FindLaw, Schedule I drugs are those that pose the highest risk of chemical dependence and abuse and generally serve no medical benefit. Down the line are Schedule V drugs, which are lower on the severity level in terms of danger and criminal consequences. For the most part, federal law determines these classifications, though there are some variations at the state level. 

An example of drug law variations in Florida and the country overall is cannabis (marijuana). The classification system and the legal reality of the specific drug in a certain state can cause confusion. We will continue discussing this matter and the larger matter of drug classification in a future drug law post.

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