592Understanding Georgia Drug Law

The severity of the drug charge will depend in part on how the drug is defined by Georgia and federal law.  The different types of controlled substances were divided into 5 distinct categories (called "schedules") in 1970 by the U.S. Congress when they passed the Controlled Substances Act.  The Act also designated both the FDA and DEA as the two agencies responsible for determining which drugs are classified into which schedule.

SCHEDULE I DRUGS

Schedule I drugs include those intoxicants that are generally considered to be some of the most dangerous and addictive controlled substances.  More specifically the Controlled Substances Act set out three qualifications for substances that belong in the Schedule I category:

  1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse;
  2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and
  3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision

Schedule I drugs include heroin, mescaline, psilocybin, gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), MDMA (Molly), LSD and marijuana among others.

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SCHEDULE II DRUGS

Schedule II drugs  have a somewhat modified definition under Georgia drug law.  The Controlled Substances Act defines Schedule II drugs using the following qualifications:

  1. The drug or other substances have a high potential for abuse;
  2. The drug or other substances have currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions; and
  3. Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Schedule II drugs include Oxycodone, opium, cocaine, Ritalin (Methylphenidate), Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts), Fentanyl, methamphetamine, opium, methadone, morphine, pure codeine, and pure hydrocodone, among others.

SCHEDULE III DRUGS

Schedule III drugs are categorized using these three parameters:

  1. The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II;
  2. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and
  3. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Schedule III controlled substances include some anabolic steroids, Ketamine, Xyrem, a preparation of GHB used to treat narcolepsy, and less than pure hydrocodone and/or codeine (for instance, combined with acetaminophen or ibuprofen), among others.

SCHEDULE IV DRUGS

Schedule IV substances are those that fit the following criteria:

  1. The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III;
  2. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and
  3. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

Schedule IV drugs include Alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium),  clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), zolpidem (Ambien), zopiclone (Imovane), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon(Sonata), and phenobarbital, among others.

SCHEDULE V DRUGS

Schedule V controlled substances under Georgia drug law are those that can be described as:

  1. The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV;
  2. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and
  3. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.

Schedule V drugs are less popular and are often overlooked by law enforcement and prosecutors for charging purposes, but they include medications with small amounts of codeine or opium, some anticonvulsants, and some treatments for chronic fatigue, among others.

If the police catch you with possessing any of the substances, you may be charged with a felony (note: in Georgia, if you are discovered with less than an ounce of marijuana it may be charged as a misdemeanor).

If you are convicted of a felony you could be facing more than a year in prison, very high court fines, community service, expensive drug abuse treatment, and a license suspension.  Contact criminal defense attorney Erin Gerstenzang as soon as possible if you have been charged with a drug offense or you suspect that you are about to be charged.  The sooner you start working on your case with an experienced attorney, the better.  The best quality defense will depend upon you selecting a highly qualified and dedicated attorney to fight on your behalf. With a 10 AVVO rating and years of experience and knowledge ready to go to work for you, Erin can fight for your rights before the case ever reaches a courtroom.  Talk to Erin today to start mounting the most credible and viable defenses available in your case.