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What does "schedule" mean in a drug possession charge?

Drugs are classified into five groups or schedules based on their potential for abuse or dependency and whether or not they have any legitimate medical use. When someone receives a drug possession charge in New Jersey the drug's schedule is specified. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous because they have the highest potential for abuse, possibly causing both physical and psychological dependence. They have no known medical benefits. Examples of Schedule I drugs are heroin, peyote and ecstasy.

Schedule II drugs are also considered extremely highly addictive. Unlike Schedule I drugs, however, Schedule II drugs have some accepted medical uses. Examples of Schedule II drugs include fentanyl, cocaine and methadone.

Schedule III drugs are less likely to be abused than Schedule I or Schedule II drugs. They have a moderate-to-low potential for dependence -- low physical but higher psychological dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids, ketamine and testosterone.

Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse or dependency, and Schedule V drugs are even lower. They are regularly used for their medicinal benefits. Examples of Schedule IV drugs are alprazolam, clonazepam and lorazepam. Schedule V drugs include substances that include limited amounts of specific narcotics such as many antidiarrheal or analgesic medications and cough syrups.

The penalty for the conviction of drug possession charges varies based on the schedule of the drug the individual is accused of possessing. The penalty for a Schedule I conviction would likely be more severe than that for a Schedule II possession. Due to the potential severity of the penalty for conviction, anyone accused of drug possession should immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A drug possession charge can have devastating results, including fines, jail and a criminal record that can hinder employment and other opportunities in the future. A knowledgeable attorney familiar with New Jersey law can be an invaluable resource in defending against these accusations and protecting the future of someone accused of these crimes

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