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An overview of drug schedules in Virginia

For the purposes of charging a person with a drug crime, the potential charges and penalties faced depend on what type of alleged drug was confiscated. The Virginia Drug Control Act categorizes controlled substances into five different levels, from most serious to least serious. These categories are referred to as “schedules.” The following is a brief overview of what types of drugs fall under these schedules.

The most serious are Schedule I drugs. These are substances that have a great potential for abuse and for which there is no acceptable medical use. One example of a Schedule I drug is heroin.

Following that are Schedule II drugs. These are substances that have a great potential for abuse and could cause users to become significantly dependent upon them, but do have an acceptable medical use. Oxycodone is an example of a Schedule II drug.

After that are Schedule III drugs. These are substances that could potentially cause a person to become moderately dependent on them, but do have an acceptable medical use. One example of a Schedule III drug is anabolic steroids.

Next are Schedule IV drugs. These are substances that could potentially cause a person to become dependent on them to a lesser extent than Schedule III drugs, but do have an acceptable medical use. Xanax is one example of a Schedule IV drug.

Finally, there are Schedule V drugs. These are substances that have a low potential for abuse, will likely not cause a user to become dependent on them and have an acceptable medical use. Cough syrup with codeine in it is an example of a Schedule V drug.

As this shows, for purposes of prosecution, the type of drug allegedly at issue makes a difference. Crimes associated with Schedule I drugs are much more serious than those involving Schedule V drugs. However, a conviction on drug charges, no matter what the Schedule, has the potential for serious penalties, including fines and incarceration. Therefore, those facing drug charges will want to explore every defense option available to them, to present the strongest case possible in their favor.

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