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North Carolina drug schedule laws explained

The North Carolina Controlled Substances Act defines drugs as substances recognized by the U.S. Pharmacopoeia that are intended to affect functions of the body. In short, drugs are any illicit substance specified in state or federal laws. Substances not explicitly listed in Chapter 90 of the North Carolina statutes are still illegal if banned by federal law.

Not all drugs are created equal

North Carolina categorizes controlled substances into six schedules. The schedules rank the substances by characteristics such as the risk to public health and welfare, potential for abuse and pharmacological effects. Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and are not used medicinally. Schedule VI drugs pose minimal threat to public health and have a low risk of abuse. Examples of common drugs for each schedule include:

  • Schedule I: Schedule I drugs include highly addictive and mind altering substances such as heroin, morphine and mescaline.
  • Schedule II: Consisting mainly of pain medications, schedule II drugs encompass opium, oxycodone and fentanyl. Other stimulating schedule II drugs are methamphetamines and amphetamines.
  • Schedule III: Schedule III drugs include sedatives such as barbiturates and ketamine along with larger amounts of the pain medicine codeine.
  • Schedule IV: A mix of stimulants and depressants, schedule IV drugs include Xanax and Cathine.
  • Schedule V: Schedule V substances include high quantities of over the counter medicines available for purchase at retail stores and smaller quantities of codeine.
  • Schedule VI: Marijuana, hashish and synthetic cannabinoids make up the bulk of schedule VI drugs.

Depending on the amount and type of substance penalties for possession vary. Charges for first time offenders range from a Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class I felony. Individuals found possessing illegal substances face jail time and significant fines.

A drug charge has the potential to impact your life long after you have served time and paid required fines. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney may help you reduce or avoid a charge altogether. Your future is at stake; do not let a drug conviction tarnish it.

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