What are schedule 1 drugs and why is marijuana on the list?

While many states have legalized the use of marijuana or the possession of cannabis in certain amounts for either recreational or medicinal use, it's still illegal to possess, sell, manufacture, distribute and traffic the drug on the federal level. It's because of this that if you're found with the drug, you risk being prosecuted for it. If convicted, you stand the potential of spending an extended time in jail.

From the perspective of the federal government, marijuana and cannabis are both schedule 1 drugs. Under the Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) classification system, there are five different schedules of drugs. Those classified as schedule 1 narcotics are those believed to have the largest potential to be abused. They also are believed to be the ones with the smallest potential medical value.

A highly addictive drug such as heroin joins marijuana on the list of schedule 1 drugs. Other drugs in this same class include ecstasy and LSD. Opioid pain killers are listed, such as Vicodin, join cocaine and meth as schedule 2 drugs.

In looking at this list, many might wonder how it is that the DEA considers marijuana to be just dangerous as heroin or more so than cocaine.

Drug policy experts warn that it doesn't. They note that the drugs placed on the schedule 1 list are simply ones that the DEA doesn't believe to possess any medicinal value. The schedule 2 through 5 drugs apparently do, although the smaller the number, the less medically significant the drug is.

If you're arrested and convicted for a drug offense, then the schedule of the drug that you were found in possession of will matter. In most cases, the closer the drug is to being a schedule 1 narcotic, the harsher the sentence you'll likely face. Even then, marijuana possession tends to be dealt with far less harshly than how other drug offenses are.

Whether you've been arrested for marijuana, cocaine, heroin or some other narcotic offense, it's important to know that a conviction on your record can greatly impact your ability to land a job now and in the future. In learning more about your case, a Christiansburg attorney can advise you of defense strategies that may be applicable in your case.

Source: Vox, "The federal drug scheduling system, explained," German Lopez, accessed April 06, 2018

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