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Understanding what is considered a controlled substance

When it comes to drug crimes, the type of drug as well as the quality of the supposed drug could greatly impact the penalties a defendant could face. Thus, it is imperative that Iowa residents become fully aware of the charges against them and what criminal defense options they have.

Some drug charges could be based on the possession or sale of a controlled substance. This term refers to an illegal drug that could have detrimental effects on the health and welfare of a person. Both state and federal governments regulate these substances, and those caught possessing a controlled substance could be arrested, fined and could face serious consequences if convicted.

It should be noted that not all controlled substances are illegal to possess in all circumstances. Thus, it is important to understand what makes a controlled substance illegal. The federal government defines controlled substances as being any substance listed in any of five categories. Schedule I includes substances that have no accepted medical use. These are considered unsafe and carry a high potential for abuse. This includes heroine, LSD, marijuana, peyote and ecstasy.

Schedule II controlled substances are narcotics and stimulants that have a high potential for abuse, generating severe psychological or physical dependence. This includes Dilaudid, methadone, OxyContin, morphine, codeine, amphetamine and methamphetamine. Schedule III includes substances such as Vicodin, Suboxone, ketamine and anabolic steroids. These are substances that are considered to have a less potential for abuse; however, they could still lead to dependency.

Schedule IV includes substances that have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, and includes substances such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Restoril and Halcion. Finally, Schedule V substances include those that are primarily preparations. These include limited quantities of narcotics and include cough syrups that contain codeine.

In technical terms, it is considered illegal to possess a substance listed in any of the above schedules. However, if an individual is properly prescribed the substance and lawfully purchased it, that individual has not violated the law and may be exempt from prosecution.

Source:, "What Is a Controlled Substance?" accessed May 21, 2017

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