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Controlled substances and penalties

South Carolina residents may know that a controlled substance is a drug designated as illegal by the federal government. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 breaks drugs down into five categories or schedules. These range from the most dangerous, listed under Schedule I, to the least dangerous. Some prescription drugs are considered controlled substances, but if a person has been prescribed and purchased the drug lawfully, having it is not considered a violation.

Examples of Schedule I drugs are LSD and heroin. These are considered to have no medical uses. Methamphetamine is a type of Schedule II drug. Schedule III drugs are considered to have a high risk for psychological addiction and include Vicodin and ketamine. Xanax and Valium are Schedule IV drugs, and the least serious types of controlled substances, Schedule V, include cough syrups with codeine.

Penalties for controlled substances depend on the type of drug it is, the quantity and the type of offense. In addition to possession, it is also illegal to dispense, distribute or manufacture a controlled substance. Penalties go up when other offenses are combined with drug offenses such as a person's serious injury or death. Federal law is considered to override state law regarding controlled substances. State law can be stricter than federal, but it cannot be more lenient.

People who are facing charges for drug-related offenses might want to talk to an attorney about their options. It is important not to assume that because it is a first-time offense, the quantity of the drug is small or that the drug is not considered one of the more dangerous ones that the consequences will not be serious. Furthermore, penalties might not only be legal in nature. For example, a person's job could be jeopardized, or a student could be denied access to some loans.

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