How are Drugs Classified in TX?

Whereas federal law categorizes controlled substances among five schedules, Texas law classifies them into four penalty groups according to the abuse potential and medical usefulness, if any, of the drug.

Not all drugs are equally dangerous, but the more you find out about how the law categorizes controlled substances, the less measurable a drug’s risk to human health seems. Many drugs can be very beneficial or very harmful, depending on the context and doses in which a person consumes them. Furthermore, “controlled substance” is a legal category, not a reference to the drug’s molecular structure. There is no column on the Periodic Table of Elements known as the controlled substances. To make matters more complicated, federal law has one scheme for categorizing illegal and potentially illegal drugs, and Texas law has another. Therefore, the question of “How bad is this drug?” depends on whether your case is going through the federal courts or the state courts. It all sounds very confusing, but the Austin drug crimes defense lawyers at Granger & Mueller can help you make sense of things.

Categorizing Controlled Substances: A Little Bit of Science and a Lot of Fear Mongering

Federal law categorizes drugs in five schedules, pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical uses but carry a high potential for abuse. The drugs in the other schedules are legally approved pharmaceutical drugs, ranked in order of abuse potential.

By contrast, Texas law categorizes controlled substances into four main penalty groups plus a few subgroups. The main difference is that, whereas federal Schedule I drugs have no legally approved medical applications, Texas PG1 drugs are the most dangerous drugs, regardless of whether they have been approved for any medical uses. Therefore, heroin is a Schedule I drug, but cocaine, oxycodone, and fentanyl are Schedule II. Texas law considers cocaine as dangerous as heroin, but federal law does not because the FDA has approved cocaine for topical use to prevent bleeding during eye surgery.

Texas frequently creates new penalty groups for drugs that have noticeably different abuse patterns from other drugs with similar chemical composition and physiological effects. Therefore, fentanyl has its own penalty group designation, even though it is a potent opioid, like heroin and hydrocodone. Cannabis also has its own penalty group designation in Texas. Although Texas has not decriminalized cannabis possession at the state level, the penalties for possession of cannabis are less than the penalties for illegal possession of other controlled substances. To make matters more confusing, cannabis is still a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level, although there has recently been discussion about changing its designation to Schedule III.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You Fight Charges of Drug Possession

A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you have been accused of illegal possession of a controlled substance such as synthetic cannabinoids, cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, or prescription opioids. Contact Granger and Mueller in Austin, Texas, or call (512)474-9999.