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What Is a Controlled Substance?

Posted on August 18, 2021 in Drug Crimes

A controlled substance is an illegal drug that is regulated by the federal and state governments. A controlled substance means that the government has chosen to regulate the drug on a legal level due to its potential to harm a person’s health and welfare. If you are caught using or in possession of a controlled substance in Arizona, you could face criminal charges and consequences such as fines and jail time. For more information about controlled substances and related criminal charges, contact a Phoenix drug crimes attorney from AZ Defenders.

Federal Laws for Controlled Substances

A controlled substance is any illicit substance that is controlled by state, federal and local laws. Under federal law, it is illegal to manufacture, distribute or sell, dispense, or possess with intent to distribute any controlled substance. Even the mere possession of a controlled substance for personal use without a valid prescription could result in prosecution.

The list of controlled substances is long. To better organize and regulate these illegal drugs, the federal government created the Controlled Substances Act. This act classifies illicit substances into five classes, known as Schedules, based on the potential dangers they present to users:

  • Schedule I. Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse (severe psychological or physical dependence), and no accepted medical use. Examples include marijuana, ecstasy, LSD and peyote.
  • Schedule II. Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse, but some accepted medical use (with strict regulations). Examples include cocaine, meth, oxycodone, fentanyl, Adderall and Ritalin.
  • Schedule III. Schedule III drugs or chemicals have a moderate to low potential for dependence, and drug abuse potential that is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Examples include ketamine, testosterone and anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule IV. Schedule IV Substances have a low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence. Examples include Valium, Xanax, Darvocet, Ambien and Tramadol.
  • Schedule V. Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and dependence, and may be used for medical conditions such as diarrhea and allergies. Examples include Robitussin AC, Lomotil, Lyrica and Motofen.

It is important to note that not all controlled substances are illegal in all circumstances. If an individual has a valid medical prescription to possess a controlled substance, he or she will be within his or her legal rights to do so. The individual should only use the controlled substance according to his or her doctor’s instructions, however, as it is still a potentially dangerous and/or addictive substance.

What Are the Penalties for Illegally Possessing a Controlled Substance in Arizona?

If you are found in illegal possession of a controlled substance, you may face federal and/or state criminal charges. The penalties that you face will depend on factors such as the type and quantity of the drug, as well as your intent for possessing the drug. If you are found in possession of a large quantity of a controlled substance with intent to sell, for example, your penalties could be more severe than being found in possession of a small quantity of a substance for personal use.

Common sentences for drug crimes involving controlled substances include:

  • A hefty fine
  • Probation
  • Mandatory community service
  • Months to years in jail
  • Years in a state prison
  • Life imprisonment

It may be possible to reduce your sentence, reduce the charges against you or even dismiss the case with help from a criminal defense lawyer in Arizona. An experienced drug crimes defense attorney can choose the right legal strategy for your circumstances and the specific charges that you are facing. For example, if you are being accused of possessing marijuana, a Schedule I drug, an experienced attorney may be able to base a defense on ignorance, lack of intent, lawful possession, police misconduct or entrapment. Speak to a drug crimes defense lawyer today for more information about your specific case.