Despite California's reforms to marijuana possession laws, the consequences of a drug conviction are still significant. However, not every drug charge is treated the same under the law. There are countless types of controlled substances sold, manufactured, and trafficked in California, and each one is treated differently under state law. New controlled substances are constantly entering the marketplace, and it would be impossible for legislators to keep up with each substance individually.
To address the challenge of regulating hundreds of controlled substances, the California legislature has adopted a framework of classifications known as drug schedules. Every controlled substance falls into a schedule, which has a corresponding penalty range for convictions.
No matter the classification of your drug charge, a conviction could have a lasting impact on your case. With the right Los Angeles drug defense lawyer, you could greatly improve your chances of avoiding a conviction. For vigorous representation, you can count on, contact the Sigal Law Group right away.
Regulating Controlled Substances
There are countless substances that Californians are exposed to in a given day. Only a small fraction of those are regulated under state law. The drug schedules under California law deal exclusively with controlled substances. The possession of these substances is illegal under state or federal law and can include prescription medication or narcotics.
If you are familiar with federal drug laws, these schedules may look familiar. That is because the state of California has adopted drug schedules that conform to the federal versions. This can present some interesting conflicts, as federal law lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug while California has taken steps to legalize the substance
There are five broad categories of controlled substances under state law. The drugs that fall into each category share similarities regarding their risks of addiction and their legitimate medical uses. For a better understanding of California's controlled substances law, contact a criminal defense lawyer.
California Drug Schedules
The schedules established under California state law are similar to those under federal law. Found at Health and Safety Code Sections 11054-11058, the substances in each schedule face increasing penalties. Schedule V drugs carry the lightest penalties available, while Schedule I drugs face the most severe penalties.
The drugs contained in Schedule V carry the lowest penalties compared to the other schedules. These substances are generally legal when used with a prescription and carry a lower risk of addiction compared to other substances. This schedule contains a number of powerful cough suppressants as well as substances that are used as ingredients in other prescription drugs. Most of the substances in Schedule V are legal to possess with a prescription. Schedule V includes limited quantities of drugs including:
Like the drugs in Schedule V, Schedule IV substances retain significant medicinal value. However, the drugs in this category are notably more habit-forming than those in Schedule V. Primarily, the drugs in this category include prescription depressants and stimulants. Some examples of Schedule IV substances include:
The midpoint for controlled substances under California law is known as Schedule III. Unlike the two previous schedules discussed, there is little medicinal value to the substances in this schedule. What's more, Schedule III drugs are typically more addictive in nature compared to Schedule IV or V substances. In General, this schedule covers a broad range of substances. This includes everything from steroids to stimulants and anything in between. Some examples include
- Lysergic acid
The substances listed in Schedule II have few, if any, legitimate medical uses. What's more, these drugs are known for carrying a significant risk of addiction, dependency, or abuse. Many of these substances are dangerous in any capacity, while others are particularly risky when abused. In addition to a series of stimulants and depressants, Schedule II also contains a significant number of opiates. Some examples of drugs in Schedule II include:
- Components of Amphetamine or Methamphetamine
The drugs present in Schedule I represent the most dangerous or addictive controlled substances. These are primarily drugs of abuse that lack any medical value. It should come as no surprise, then, that the substances in this schedule are the most likely to lead to dependency or abuse out of any drugs. When it comes to penalties of possessing or manufacturing a controlled substance in California, Schedule I drugs carry the steepest consequences.
The drugs in this schedule are primarily made up of opiates, hallucinogens, and depressants. Examples of drugs that fall into Schedule I include:
- Cocaine base
Although marijuana falls into this schedule thanks to its severe treatment under federal law, the laws related to the possession of small amounts of marijuana have rapidly shifted in recent years. Given the growing acknowledgment of marijuana's medical uses, there is a push in California and nationally to remove it from Schedule I.
Discuss Your Case with a Los Angeles Drug Defense Lawyer
Understanding California's drug schedule laws can go a long way in helping you wrap your mind around a drug charge. Whether you are charged with possession, trafficking, or manufacturing a controlled substance, the penalties you could face will depend in large part on the schedule the drug in your case falls into.
For most of the substances in these schedules, the possession, manufacture, or sale of these drugs will result in a felony charge. A felony can carry far more than just the potential of a jail sentence or fine. As a convicted felon, you could find it challenging to maintain employment, housing, or personal relationships. To fight back against the criminal charges you are facing, you need the help of a skilled Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. For legal representation that you can rely on, contact attorney Vitaly Sigal and the Sigal Law Group right away.