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What is a controlled substance?

A controlled substance is generally a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession, or use is regulated by a government, such as illicitly used drugs or prescription medications that are designated by law. 

Drugs and other substances that are considered controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) are classified into five schedules. This scheduling is depended on the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential. The CSA scheduling list is annually updated and describes basic or parent chemical. This list is not comprehensive and does not describe salts, isomers, and salts of isomers, esters, ethers, and derivatives.

A general reference list of controlled substances can be found at:

DEA- Controlled Substance List

Section 1308 of CFR Title 21 (21 CFR §1308).

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Controlled Substance Schedules

Knowing the schedule of your material is important as there are additional regulation and restrictions that apply to schedule I and II that do not apply to schedule III - V.


Defined as drugs, substances, or chemicals with:



no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

marijuana (cannabis), heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote


a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.

cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin


non-narcotic schedule II

pentobarbital (Nembutal), amphetamine (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate (Ritalin®).


a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV.

Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone


non-narcotic schedule II

pentobarbital (FP-3 euthanasia solution), benzphetamine (Didrex®), phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids such as Depo®-Testosterone.


a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.

Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, Tramadol


with a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes.

cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin