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Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.
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What are 'controlled substances?'

Many drug-related laws involve what are known as "controlled substances" and governed by the Controlled Substances Act. It should be noted that not all drugs listed in the CSA are illegal in all cases.

Many are drugs that can be legally obtained with a prescription from a doctor, such as Vicodin, Xanax, OxyContin and even Tylenol with codeine. However, possession of drugs on the CSA without a prescription can land you under arrest.

There's been some controversy over the fact that marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug. These are drugs deemed to be unsafe, easily abused and have no accepted medical value. However, marijuana is legal in a number of states, including Florida, for medical purposes and even in some states for recreational use. Other drugs in the Schedule I category include LSD, heroin and ecstasy.

The next level down in the CSA are Schedule II drugs. These are stimulants and narcotics that are deemed to have a significant potential for abuse and physical or psychological dependence. These include commonly-prescribed drugs like OxyContin, Percocet and Adderall. However, people often obtain the drugs without a valid prescription, which is illegal under federal and well as state and many local laws.

Schedule III and IV drugs include medications that many of us have taken for a short time to relieve pain, such as Tylenol with codeine and Vicodin. Many people take other drugs in these categories, such as Xanax and Valium, to relieve anxiety. However, these substances are considered to have some potential for abuse and dependence.

Schedule V drugs are those that contain a relatively small amount of narcotics. These include medications such as cough syrups with codeine.

Although states have varying drug laws, although federal law can trump state law, such as it does with marijuana. The best way to avoid facing drug charges for prescription drugs is not to possess them unless you have a prescription. However, it's important to note that many of the drugs covered by the CSA can cause serious driver impairment. Therefore, even with a valid prescription, you can face DUI charges. We saw an example of that, as we discussed recently, with Tiger Woods' arrest here in Florida.

It's possible to face drug possession charges even if the drugs in question are "legal" drugs if you didn't obtain them legally. It's essential to take these charges seriously and seek experienced legal guidance.

Source: FindLaw, "What Is a Controlled Substance?," accessed June 20, 2017

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