Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The law consolidated all contemporary laws concerning drugs and the chemicals used to produce them into one giant system. Currently, the CSA is most relevant for the five schedules it places each controlled substance into. Scheduling is ostensibly based purely on medical use, potential for abuse and potential for addiction, although the choice of Schedule I for marijuana makes it clear a fair amount of bias exists.1 Scheduling determines availability and the penalities for possession, manufacture and trafficking handed down in the War on Some Drugs.

The schedules are:

Schedule I drugs may not be prescribed and are legal only in research situations. Schedule II prescriptions must be written and signed by the practitioner, and may not be refilled. Schedule III and IV may be written or called in, and the prescription can be refilled numerous times. Schedule V drugs are sometimes over the counter, although with special restrictions (must be eighteen, offer ID and sign a special log). The majority of over the counter drugs could be considered Schedule VI, although such is not a legal designation. As one can imagine, the paperwork behind each subscription increases with Schedule.

For drugs currently restricted at the time of the CSA's passing, schedules were assigned. Schedules are added, modified or deleted through petition to the DEA by internal request, or by the Department of Human Health Services, or by any concerned party or law enforcement request. The DEA investigates the drug and sends the information to the HHS, which asks for information from the FDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and sometimes outside medical and scientific sources. The HHS then gives a recommendation to the DEA, which is binding only if the HHS maintains no schedule should be designated. The largest reason for scheduling is potential for abuse, which is widely defined as any use other than medical necessity. In the end, the DEA Administrator decides the schedule. Appeal is fairly limited at this point. Once the notice to schedule is placed in the Federal Register, appeals may be made to an administrative law judge, but their decision may be ignored by the DEA. Finally, an appeal to a US Court of Appeal is possible before final scheduling, but the chances of any overturn at this point is limited.

In 1984, the CSA was amended by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. As a result, the DEA has the power to place a substance into Schedule I on an emergency basis for public health concerns while the normal scheduling procedure is going on. This is only possible for currently abused substances without medical use, and may stay in effect for one year with a six month extension available if formal scheduling procudures are under way. Further amendment of the CSA came in 1986 with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which automatically placed chemical analogues - structurally or pharmacologically similar - of Schedule I and II substances into Schedule I. The act came around as a result of the growing popularity in designer drugs that were technially legal until placed under federal scheduling.

1 : In 1989, Judge Francis Young, an administrative law judge for the DEA, ruled that marijuana should be designated Schedule II due to its acceptance by a number of doctors for various purposes. The ruling may be read at http://www.commonlink.com/users/carl-olsen/MEDICAL/YOUNG/young.html
To date, there has been no change in the DEA's actions against marijuana, and doctors who proscribe medical marijuana to patients in states allowing such have been threatened with loss of licenses.

Sources:
Erowid's Description of Federal Controlled Substances (http://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/law/law_fed_sched.shtml) DEA publication Drugs of Abuse, chapter Controlled Substances Act (http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/abuse/chap1/contents.htm)

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