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Schedule IV Drug Classification & Drug List

Schedule IV Drug Classification & Drug List
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  • 0:01 Controlled Substances Act
  • 2:02 Drug Schedules
  • 3:40 Schedule IV Drugs
  • 5:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

Controlled substances are categorized into five separate 'schedules.' By and large, the schedules range from the most dangerous drugs to the least dangerous. This lesson explains the Schedule IV drug class.

Controlled Substances Act

The 1960s! Gas was 25 cents a gallon. Demonstrators protested the Vietnam War and rallied for civil rights. 'Hippies' advocated peace and love. Recreational drug use rose throughout the U.S.

By 1970, the U.S. had over 200 separate federal drug laws. However, they weren't adequate to address the growing drug problem because the laws didn't typically cover legally-manufactured drugs. New laws were needed in order to cover the illegal use of lawful pharmaceuticals, such as painkillers and sedatives. Congress responded by enacting the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. It consolidated all previously existing federal drug laws into one statute.

The heart of the government's new war on drugs was centered on the act's Title II. It's known as the Controlled Substances Act, or CSA. The CSA established five classes, known as 'schedules,' for regulating drugs according to their medicinal value and potential for abuse. The schedules serve to consolidate drug laws, because drugs are scheduled together based on the type of drug and the chemicals used. For example, benzodiazepines, also known as tranquilizers, are classified in Schedule IV. Benzodiazepines include various drugs used for anxiety and insomnia.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, is responsible for enforcing all federal controlled substances laws, including the CSA. Its creation in 1973 consolidated several federal law enforcement agencies into one entity in order to better enforce the federal drug laws.

Drug Schedules

Let's take a closer look at the drug schedules. Together, the schedules list the substances that were controlled in 1970 when the CSA was enacted, as well as the substances that have been added since that time. Over 100 substances have been added. Substances are also sometimes removed, or transferred from one schedule to another.

Note that when we talk about controlled substances, we're using a legal term. Controlled substances are drugs or chemicals listed in one of the drug schedules. Generally speaking, if a drug or chemical isn't listed in one of the schedules, then it's considered to be non-controlled. For example, aspirin is a non-controlled substance.

The schedules represent a spectrum. You can think of the schedule number as a rating system. Schedule I drugs are those considered to have no medical benefit and a high potential for addiction or abuse. For the most part, Schedule I includes the most dangerous drugs. Schedule V drugs are those considered to have a recognized medical benefit and a low potential for abuse. Those are considered to be the least dangerous of the controlled substances.

Controlled substances are placed into the schedules based on three main factors:

  • The drug's known medical benefits
  • The drug's status in international treaties, or the way other countries handle the legality of the drug
  • The drug's potential for addiction or abuse

Schedule IV Drugs

Today we're examining Schedule IV. This schedule includes drugs with a currently accepted medical use in the U.S. and a low potential for abuse in comparison to the drugs in Schedule III.

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