When people in Pennsylvania hear the term “drug arrest,” they might automatically equate that to one being arrested for attempting to sell illicit substances. Yet in reality, a majority of drug arrests are due to possession (indeed, information shared by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows that over 85% of drug arrests made in 2017 were possession-related). The immediate assumption may be that if one is arrested for drug possession, they will automatically face felony charges. However, the severity of a charge that results from a drug arrest depends largely on the type of substance one is accused of possessing.
Per the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the state classifies different types of drugs using distinct drug schedules. These are determined based on the recognized clinical uses of a substance (or lack thereof), along with the potential for users abusing the drug and/or developing a dependency. These state’s drug schedules are broken down as follows:
- Schedule I: Any substances that present a high potential for abuse, have no currently recognized medical uses, and whose is deemed unsafe even under medical supervision
- Schedule II: Any substances that present a high potential for abuse, for which there are current medical uses (or can be used safely under close watch, and whose use can lead to severe dependency
- Schedule III: Any substances that present a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I and II drugs, have current medical uses and can lead to a moderate dependency
- Schedule IV: Any substances that present a low potential for abuse, have current medical uses and can lead to a limited dependency
Schedule V drugs are those that have mixed narcotic compositions. The charges associated with possession of any illicit substances can vary in severity, from misdemeanor offenses to felony charges.