If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense in Pennsylvania related to a controlled substance, there are many things you will want to know about as you or your friend get into the criminal defense process. One of the things to understand is that different drugs are rated differently by the government and that the particular rating associated with a substance may contribute to the actual charge a person may face.

As explained by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the delineation of drug ratings is outlined in The Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act. The ratings are referred to as schedules, of which there are five. The schedules are determined based on three factors. The first is the potential a substance has to be abused. The second is any recognized medical use for the substance. The third is the level of potential that a substance may contribute to dependency by a user.

Schedule I substances are deemed to be the most serious as their potential for abuse is the highest and there is no identified or accepted use of them among the medical community. Heroin is a Schedule I drug. Fentanyl and opium are Schedule II drugs as there is some recognized use for them medically.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give residents in Pennsylvania an idea of how the state classifies different drugs and what law oversees this classification and the crimes that may be associated with illegal creation, use or possession of them.