What Is a Schedule 1 Drug?

By Danielle Smyth - Updated April 19, 2018
Pills and capsules in a metal box

For the purposes of drug testing and legal reporting, drugs are categorized into several classes by the federal government. If you are undergoing a background check relating to an employment application or licensing procedure, you may be asked to submit to a drug test. Depending on the purpose of the test, your sample may be tested for a number of drugs. Similarly, your legal history may include incidents involving drug use, categorized by class. In either case, drugs should be classified in the same manner.

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Drugs are broken down into five categories, called schedules, by the federal government. The greater the chance for dependency and the lower the medically accepted use of a drug, the higher it is on the list. Schedule 1 drugs are the most likely to cause dependency and abuse.

What Classes of Drugs Are There?

At the federal level, drugs are categorized into five classes, called schedules. These groups are arranged by drugs’ acceptable medical uses or abuse and dependency potential. The schedules are numbered 1 through 5, with 1 being the most likely to be abused or lead to dependency, and 5 being the least likely.

Drugs classified as controlled substances are regulated by the federal government. This can mean that they are available solely via a prescription or that they are illicit. Drugs not classified as controlled substances can still be considered Schedule 1 drugs when it comes to criminal prosecution.

Some states have additional classification systems for drugs. For instance, Tennessee has seven schedules of drugs, rather than just five.

What is a Schedule 1 Drug?

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a Schedule 1 drug is a substance or chemical with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. These drugs include heroin, LSD, marijuana, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as ecstasy), methaqualone and peyote.

What is a Schedule 2 Drug?

The DEA defines Schedule 2 drugs as those with a high potential for abuse. In addition, these drugs are known to cause severe psychological or physical dependence. For these and other reasons, Schedule 2 drugs are considered very dangerous. Examples of this class of drugs include Vicodin (in certain concentrations), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin.

What is a Schedule 4 Drug?

Schedule 4 drugs are classified by the DEA as substances or chemicals with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule 4 drugs include Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien and Tramadol.

What is a Schedule 6 Drug?

According to the federal government, there are only five categories of drugs. However, some states classify drugs differently. For instance, in Tennessee, marijuana is a Schedule 6 drug. Possession of drugs at this level in Tennessee results in a misdemeanor at most quantities. However, possession or sale of large amounts of this class of drug can still be a felony.

About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. Her experience includes work in the insurance, workers compensation, disability, and background investigation fields. She owns her own content marketing agency and enjoys writing legal articles and blogs for clients in related industries.

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