Controlled Substances Law & Legal Definition


Controlled substances are drugs that are regulated by state and federal laws that aim to controll the danger of addiction, abuse, physical and mental harm, the trafficking by illegal means, and the dangers from actions of those who have used the substances. Such drugs may be declared illegal for sale or use, but may be dispensed under a physician's prescription.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, is the legal foundation of the federal government's fight against the abuse of drugs and other substances. This law is a consolidation of numerous laws regulating the manufacture and distribution of narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, and chemicals used in the illicit production of controlled substances.

The following is an outline of the Federal Controlled Substances Schedules, with examples of some of the drugs that fall in the respective schedules:

Federal Schedules for Controlled Substances

Schedule 1 (C-I)

High potential for abuse; no current accepted medical use in the United States. Hallucinogenic substances; heroin and certain other opioids;methaqualone. Not for prescription use, but available for research, instructional use and chemical analysis purposes.

Schedule 2 (C-II)

High potential for abuse; currently accepted medical use in the United States; high potential for abuse; severe liability to cause psychic or physical dependence. Opium, morphine, codeine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, methadone, fentanyl, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, methylphenidate, amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital, diphenoxylate. Written prescription required except in emergency, no refills, written prescriptions may be transmitted by fax in some instances

Schedule 3 (C-III)

Potential for abuse that is less than those in Schedules I and II; their abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence than substances in Schedules 1 or 2. Combinations of codeine with aspirin or acetaminophen; certain sedative drugs. Oral prescription orders allowed. Prescription orders valid for 6 months. 5 refills allowed in 6 months.

Schedule 4 (C-IV)

Low potential for abuse relative that leads only to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to drugs in Schedule III. Benzodiazepines, phenobarbital, propoxyphene, certain sedative drugs. Same restrictions as for Schedule III.

Schedule 5 (C-V)

Potential for abuse that is less that the drugs in Schedule IV; may be dispensed without a prescription order.