Who Enforces the Controlled Substances Act?The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the Controlled Substances Act. The job of the DEA is to enforce the laws and regulations of the Controlled Substances Act and to bring to justice those who are participating in the illegal distribution and use of controlled substances.
The DEA also supports educational programs about drug abuse prevention and tries to reduce the amount of illegal drugs available in the United States and other countries.
How Are These Drugs Categorized?Controlled substances are placed into five different categories, called Schedules. These Schedules are represented by the Roman numerals I, II, III, IV, and V.
Schedule I drugs are the most restricted. Prescriptions cannot be written for Schedule I drugs, so they are not seen in pharmacies. Schedule II, III, IV, and V drugs may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and dispensed from pharmacies. Schedule V drugs are the least restricted.
Some states may classify drug schedules differently than the federal government. For instance, pseudoephedrine is not a Schedule II to V drug according to federal law, but it is scheduled this way in some states. Again, the stricter law prevails in these situations.
Factors That Affect CategorizationSeveral things are considered when scheduling controlled substances. These include:
- Actual or potential for abuse of the substance
- What happens as a result or consequence of abuse
- Extent of abuse
- History and pattern of abuse
- What risks there are to public health, if any
- Whether there is scientific evidence that the drug or substance actually treats a medical condition
- Whether the abuse is potentially physical in nature or psychological
- Whether a substance is a precursor to a controlled substance.