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While the federal government lists prohibited drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, Virginia also has its own state-specific drug schedules in its Drug Control Act. In today’s blog, I will go over the drug scheduling classifications in Virginia from Schedule I through VI, as well as the penalties for possession of each scheduled drug.

Drug Schedules I Through VI

Under Virginia’s Drug Control Act, controlled substances are classified into six different schedules. Note that alcohol and tobacco are excluded from this definition of a controlled substance, and there are separate laws governing alcohol and tobacco use.

Schedule I and II

Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Examples include heroin and LSD. Schedule II drugs similarly have a high potential for abuse and severe dependence, but they currently have an accepted medical use. Schedule II drugs include PCP, cocaine, methadone, and methamphetamine.

Possession of Schedule I or II controlled substances is considered a Class 5 felony punishable by:

  • imprisonment of 1-10 years, or
  • jail for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse than Schedule II drugs and have the potential for moderate dependency. Schedule III drugs have accepted medical use as well, and some examples in this category are anabolic steroids and codeine.

Possession of a Schedule III controlled substance is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Schedule IV

Drugs in Schedule IV have less potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, a limited potential for dependency, and are currently accepted in medical treatment. Examples include Valium, Xanax, and other tranquilizers and sedatives.

Any possession of Schedule IV drugs will be charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor that carries up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse, limited risk for dependency, and accepted medical uses. These include drugs like cough medicines with codeine, and the penalties for possessing a Schedule V controlled substance is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Schedule VI

Schedule VI includes certain substances that are not “drugs” in the conventional sense but are nonetheless used or abused recreationally. Some examples include:

  • toluene (found in many types of paint, especially spray paint),
  • similar inhalants such as amyl nitrite (“poppers”),
  • butyl nitrite and
  • nitrous oxide (found in many types of aerosol cans; it is considered an inhalant).

Many state and local governments enforce age limits on selling products containing these substances. The possession of any Schedule VI controlled substance is a Class 4 misdemeanor with up to $250 in fines.


  • Possession of marijuana in Virginia is a civil offense that can result in the imposition of a $25 fine. While there is no weight limit to the offense of simple possession, quantities in excess of an ounce are commonly prosecuted as possession with intent to distribute, which is a criminal offense that can sometimes carry jail or prison time.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs also have potential dangers for abuse and criminalization. Painkillers are one of the most commonly abused drugs in the country, after tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.

Examples of frequently abused painkiller drugs include OxyContin, Percocet, and Demerol, and commonly abused depressants include drugs such as Valium, Ambien, and Xanax. All of these drugs can cause drowsiness and confusion, as well as slow breathing and death.

Some of the most commonly abused stimulants are drugs such as Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall, which can increase the levels of these chemicals in the body and thus cause anxiety, panic, tremors, irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, and heart attack.

The most commonly abused OTC drug to be wary of is Dextromethorphan (DXM), which is the active ingredient found in over-the-counter cough and cold medicine. When used in excess, DXM can cause impaired motor and mental functioning, numbness, nausea/vomiting, loss of coordination, hallucination, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Possession, Sale, and Manufacturing

While possession of controlled substances carries severe penalties, the sale and manufacturing of controlled substances carry even more enhanced jail time and much steeper fines. For reference, knowing the distinction between possession, sale, and manufacturing will be essential.

The crime of drug possession occurs when a person possesses any controlled substance without a valid prescription. The crime of drug sale or distribution, on the other hand, occurs when a person goes so far as to sell, provide, give away, deliver, or distribute a controlled substance. Under the Code of Virginia § 54.1-3401, “sale” is any transaction of the following type made by any person:

  • barter,
  • exchange,
  • gift,
  • offer.

The code further establishes that “distribute” means to deliver to another other than by administering or dispensing a controlled substance.

Lastly, drug manufacturing occurs when a person produces a controlled substance without legal authorization or possesses chemicals used in the manufacture of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture. The Code of Virginia § 54.1-3401 defines the following activity as “manufacturing”:

  • production,
  • preparation,
  • propagation,
  • conversion,
  • processing of any item using chemical synthesis,
  • processing by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis,
  • packaging or repackaging of the substance.

Facing Drug-Related Charges? Let Us Help.

If you are facing a drug-related charge concerned with any of the above substances, whether a Schedule I-VI drug, marijuana, or over-the-counter prescription drug, contact an experienced attorney immediately to represent your case. My firm, Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law, can look at the facts of your case and work one-on-one with you to craft a compelling defense against your charge.

Contact me at Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law, to schedule your consultation today.