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The legality of drug charges

Washington residents might like to know more about controlled substances and their legality. Controlled substances can negatively influence people's welfare and health, so local and federal governments regulate if and when these substancescan be used.

It is not always illegal to have a controlled substance. It depends on the type of substance and whether a person is allowed to possess the substance. Many controlled substances can be obtained through pharmacies and other dispensaries when used for medical reasons. However, it can be illegal to have one of these substances without a prescription.

The federal government instituted controlled substance schedules that determine when certain drugs can legally be possessed. There are five categories, and many of these categories allow for the use of narcotics in certain instances. At the top are Schedule 1 substances, and these are the only substances that there is no medical use for. Drugs in this class include heroin, LSD and ecstasy, and these drugs also are very susceptible to abuse.

Schedule II drugs include stimulants and narcotics that can cause dependence and also have a high potential for abuse. These substances include methadone, morphine, Percocet, amphetamine and others. When progressing down the schedule list, the substances contain less potential for abuse but can still cause harm. Possessing a drug in the schedule could subject a person to criminal charges. However, people are exempt from prosecution when the drugs are legally prescribed and purchased.

Drug charges vary based on the type of drug involved and the quantity. Naturally, it is worse to unlawfully possess a Schedule I substance than a Schedule V substance. However, people could still face serious consequences when possessing a large amount of a substance in a less addictive category, as that could give rise to trafficking charges in some cases.

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