Controlled substances fall under control of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the state police. Local police and sheriffs become involved when an incident falls under their jurisdiction – or when they are working with federal or state agencies.
Agencies and Organizations
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the controlled substances laws of the United States. The DEA investigates and prosecutes drug law violators through 226 domestic offices and through 85 international offices. Employees of the DEA include Diversion investigators, Special Agents, Chemists, and Intelligence Research Specialists.
State police regulate the dispensing, storing, and administering of all controlled substances. For example, a physician, pharmacy or researcher in Texas must obtain a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) number to store and prescribe controlled substances. The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains drug rules for them to follow. See Texas DPS Rules.
Laws and regulations
Drug schedules came from legislation and resulted in five categories. Each category depends on the severity of abuse of the substance and its legitimate use in the medical community. These schedules include I-V. Accordingly, each schedule corresponds to an offense for possession and distribution of the substance. 21 U.S.C. United States Code Sections 801, 801a,, 802, 811, 812, 813, and 814 determine when a drug can be placed under a schedule or removed from it.
The Drug Enforcement Administration – along with the Food and Drug Administration – make decisions about changes of the various schedules and substances that fall under them.
Amendments to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. Food and Drugs include, among others, The Domestic Chemical Diversion and Control Act of 1993 and The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008.
Schedule I substances have a high potential for abuse. Drugs in this schedule include herion (diacetylmorphine), LSD (lysergic acid diethlylamide), marijuana, ecstacy (MDMA), mescaline and peyote, among other highly addictive and controlled substances.
Schedule II substances also have a high potential for abuse. Substances in this category include cocaine, Ritalin ®, opium, methadone, oxycodone, morphine, Adderall, codeine, hydrocodone, PCPC (Phencyclidine and pentobartital.
Schedule III substances lead to a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I and Schedule II substances. These substances include Katramine (a PCP replacement), Vicodin/Tylenol 3, Marinol (used during chemotherapy), anabolic steroids, and testosterone.
Schedule IV has a lower potential for abuse – in relation to drugs in Schedule III. Drugs under Schedule IV include Valium (diazepram), Klonopin (clonazepam), Xanax, Lunesta, Ambien, Phenobarbital, Tramadol, and Soma.
Schedule V substances have a low potential for abuse. They still, however, have to be dispensed for a medical purpose. These substances include Lyrica, cough medicine containing codeine, and Lomotil.
Known now as “Big Pharma”, pharmaceutical companies patent drug names that may eventually become generic (as was the case with heroin). Any of these drugs developed for legitimate purposes can be abused or sold on the street level.
Drug patents: Zyprexa (patent expired 2011), Prozac (fluoxetine) patent expired 2001
Merck & Co.
Drug patent: Ecstacy (methylenedioxymethamphetamine)
Johnson & Johnson
Drug patent: Concerta (patent expired 2011) – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Drug patent: Depakote (valproic acid) anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder
Drug patent: Abilify (anti-depressant and anti-psychotic)
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Drug patent: Copaxone (to treat multiple sclerosis)
F. Hoffman La Roche Limited
Drug patent: Pegasys (hepatitis C drug) – later the patent was revoked
Drug patent: Paxil (Paroxetine Hydrocloride) – anti-depressant
Drug patent: diacetylmorphine – trade named Heroin – for heroisch (German) heroic (English), was first marketed as a cough suppressant and morphine substitute. Heroin converts to morphine, once metabolized. But because of its high rate of addiction, heroin was eventually no longer used for its original purpose. It became a Schedule I controlled substance.
However, in Switzerland, clinics dispense free heroin to help users overcome their addition.
Profits come not only from the illegal sale of controlled substances on the street, but also from the paraphernalia associated with drug manufacturing, sale and use. These are sold mostly in head shops. However, head shop items are not necessary to process, cook, or consume controlled substances. For example, heroin users heat and inhale heroin using aluminum foil. Substances can also be heated using a household items such as a teaspoon or tablespoon.
Not as common in the United States as in Russia is the flesh eating drug nick-named Krokodile. Krokodile destroys flesh – leaving bones exposed and even leads to amputation of limbs because of its devastating effects.
Methamphetamine can be made from over-the-counter medications. Its use can be devastating – not only in a user’s appearance, but in their internal health. Users commonly end up with sores on their body and face, in addition to “meth mouth” where the teeth become brown and yellow shark teeth – or are eaten away altogether.
Molly is the drug Ecstacy, now being used with a new name.
The Kratom Craze has created another threat to substance abuse.
Writing about controlled substances requires knowing about the Drug Enforcement Agency and the role it plays in enforcement of drug laws. In addition, it helps to become familiar with state police regulation of controlled substances through drug rules. Knowing Schedules I – V and how substances can change from one Schedule to another (over time) is also required.
And despite legitimate patents for controlled substances, there will always be street level drugs that combine controlled substances or at least ones that are used contrary to their original purpose.
Rush by Kim Wozencraft
Go Ask Alice, Author Anonymous
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Suzanne
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
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Valerie Brown’s interest in law and law enforcement came from her experience with a Law Enforcement Explorers Group, in addition to a trimester law enforcement program. She continued her interest in government and law by graduating from the University of Texas with a B.A. in Government and by completing her M.A. in Legal Studies at Texas State University. She is inspired by her father who was a chief chemist at a major petrochemical company.
*Images – DEA and Wikipedia Commons public domain