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How drug scheduling affects trafficking charges and penalties

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2022 | drug trafficking

A charge of drug trafficking does not necessarily involve the movement of drugs from one place to another. Rather, it is the possession of controlled substances in sufficient amounts to suggesting an intent to sell them.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration uses scheduling to organize controlled substances. A drug’s schedule influences the amount required for trafficking charges.

What are drug schedules?

Drug schedules are categories of controlled substances organized according to how dangerous they can be versus how useful they can be at treating diseases. There are five schedules, each identified with a Roman numeral. Schedule V controlled substances have the lowest potential for addiction out of all controlled substances. Schedule I have a high potential for addiction and no accepted medical uses.

Note that there is an inverse relationship between the addiction potential of the substances and the number of their drug schedule. In other words, the higher the number, the lower the addiction potential, and vice versa.

How does drug scheduling affect trafficking charges?

According to the University of North Carolina, the drug schedule to which a substance belongs influences the maximum penalty for trafficking it. The more addictive the substance, the greater the penalty upon conviction. Therefore, the maximum penalty for trafficking a Schedule V substance is five years in prison, compared to 10 years for a Schedule I substance.

Trafficking is a more serious offense than possession and is always a felony, whereas possession can be a misdemeanor. Nevertheless, possession of large amounts of Schedule II or III substances can be a felony, even if it does not rise to the level of trafficking.