Because of the dangers that drugs can have, countries all over the world restrict their use, manufacture and sale. Each country will have different laws in relation to drugs and controlled substances but there are some similarities across borders. Some drugs that are considered dangerous and have a high potential for abuse can also have medicinal uses or be of scientific interest. Other drugs have no approved medicinal application so they are prohibited. Possession, manufacture or use of drugs in the most severe categories can cause serious criminal proceedings which may include jail time.
The United Nations Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs 1961 is an international treaty that aims to limit the possession, use, trade, distribution and manufacture of drugs. 73 countries adopted the recommendations of the Convention including Australia, japan, Canada, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain, China and the United States. The Convention also aims to create significant international cooperative efforts to combat drug trafficking. The Convention outlines two key schedules that control substances. Schedule I lists cocaine, cannabis and heroin. Schedule II contains amphetamine, methamphetamine and PCP among others.
Drug Schedules in United States
The Controlled Substances Act regulates the manufacture, importation, use and distribution of substances. Five schedules classify substances into each grouping. Depending on specified criteria, such as international treaties, medicinal use and potential for abuse, substances are on different schedules. Schedule I, II and III are the most restricted drugs and their use or possession can lead to criminal investigation.
Schedule I drugs typically include narcotics and illegal substances. Drugs on this schedule have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use in the USA and there is a lack of safe use
Drug Schedules in Australia
Medicines and poisons are controlled under the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling off Medicines and Poisons in Australia. This legislation aims to restrict potentially toxic or harmful drugs and control the use of them. Schedule 9 outlines prohibited substances. These are drugs and poisons that may only be used for research purposes. Sale, distribution and manufacture of any of the drugs on this list is prohibited.
Drugs on Schedule 9 include marijuana, GHB, MDMA, heroin and psilocybin. Schedule 8 are controlled substances and preparations for therapeutic use. Drugs on this list have a high potential for abuse and addiction but can be approved for medicinal use with an approved prescription from the health department. Drugs on Schedule 8 include amphetamines, cocaine, ketamine, methadone and methamphetamine.
Drug Schedules in the United Kingdom
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 outlines the categories of controlled substances which are Class A, Class B or Class C. A valid prescription is required for any drug listed on the schedules. If no relevent prescription is supplied, penalties may be applicable for possession and supply of the drug. Technically a person may be in possession of heroin, for example, but if they have a valid prescription for the drug then they are not committing an offense.
Class A drugs are considered the most dangerous, addictive and have the highest potential for harm. Drugs including heroin, cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine and LSD are on this schedule. Class B drugs include amphetamine and marijuana. Class C include GHB, ketamine and anabolic steroids.