The stigma that often surrounds one who has been arrested for drug possession in New York City is that all such arrests are the same, no matter the substance that one was allegedly said to have been caught with. This line of thinking may group all of the over 1.56 million people the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports were arrested for drug abuse violations together, from those said to be in possession to prescription drugs without a valid reason to people who allegedly possessing controlled substances such as heroin or cocaine. The fact is that the law recognizes different classes of drugs, with their categories based on their potential for abuse and addiction.
According to the Consolidated Laws of New York, drugs and controlled substances are divided into schedules. These schedules (as well as the substances included in them) are broken down as follows:
- Schedule I: Opiates, opium derivatives, hallucinogenics, depressants and stimulants
- Schedule II: Opium salts, poppy or straw (or concentrate of straw), coca leaves (as well as any salts with a similar chemical composition to the aforementioned substances), hydrocodone, amphetamine or methamphetamine precursors and anabolic steroids
- Schedule III: Stimulants such as benzaphetamine and clortermine, depressants containing any derivative of barbituric acid, ketamine, narcotic drugs such as codeine, dihydrocodeine, and ehtylmorphine, dronabinol and chorionic ganadotropoin
- Schedule IV: Narcotics such as difenoxin and dextropropxyphene, fenfluramine, stimulants including diethypropion and fenproporex, pentazocine, butorphanol and tramadol
- Schedule V: Limited doses of common narcotics, stimulants and depressants
The severity of charges that one may face depends on the schedule of the drugs that on was alleged to have in his or her possession. Schedule V offenses will often only warrant misdemeanor charges, while offenses involving Schedules I and II could result in one being charged with a felony.