Under the Controlled Substances Act, the government places drugs into schedules based on their medical usage and potential for abuse and addiction. A controlled substance’s schedule can change over time as can the types of drugs listed in those schedules. 

According to the DEA, there are five schedules. How do specific controlled substances end up in any of these five schedules? 

Who creates and modifies drug schedules?

To control a substance, transfer substances between schedules or to decontrol substances, there is a process. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services can initiate changes. Other interested parties can also petition changes to the schedules. 

Individual citizens have the right to petition a change, as do any public interest groups. Additionally, drug manufacturers and pharmacies may have an interest in modifying a drug’s placement based on new evidence. 

What determines the appropriate drug schedules?

How can the DEA or other organizations determine the appropriate drug schedule? If someone means to modify or reschedule a controlled substance, what evidence does the CSA require? It is not a short process to reschedule any drug. 

The DEA or Department of Health and Human Services may analyze the potential for abuse. Evidence on abuse potential can change over time. If there is a pharmaceutical effect of the drug, then they must also take this into account. Essentially any scientific knowledge regarding the drug is fair game in terms of rescheduling. 

Under the CSA, there must be evidence of dependence, whether it is physical or psychological. The duration and scope of the abuse are also crucial to underline.