Florida Drug Classification Guide and Penalties
Drugs, chemicals and other substances that are used to manufacture drugs are classified into 5 categories under federal and Florida laws. The Florida drug classification guide is based on the federal classification guide. The drugs that are listed are placed in these classifications based on their acceptable medical use and potential for abuse as well as their addictive or dependency qualities.
The most dangerous or abused drugs are in Schedule 1 and then in descending order to Schedule V, which have the least potential for abuse or addiction. Florida is a state with severe drug penalties and does not have a medical marijuana law on its books, though this may be subject to change given the popularity of the drug at least for medicinal purposes. So far as other addictive and hallucinatory drugs, Florida’s penalties are among the harshest in the US, including those for individuals who possess relatively small amounts of marijuana. Consistent with every other state, penalties for sale or possession can be enhanced if there are minors involved, if a sale occurred in the vicinity of a school, playground or park or if weapons or violence were involved. There are many other variables and aggravating factors that can enhance a sentence where a controlled substance is involved.
Under Florida law, trafficking in an illegal substance triggers a mandatory minimum prison sentence. Trafficking and its penalties are determined by the weight of the drug, regardless if the possessor intended the drug for personal use or sale. The lowest mandatory sentence is 3 years.
Florida was a state that was known as a “pill mill” with physicians and others at pain clinics prescribing more pain medication than any other state, mostly for the highly addictive drugs oxycodone and hydrocodone. The state cracked down on these mills a few years ago and was highly successful; however, the legislature did not revise what many deemed draconian drug laws that punished low-level traffickers or addicts who possessed small amounts of these drugs with mandatory minimum prison sentences that spanned decades in some cases. Unlike most other states, Florida does not allow diversion to drug courts for first time offenders for possession of at least 7 grams of oxycodone or 14 grams of hydrocodone since this constitutes trafficking.
Drug courts are in Florida (although not in every jurisdiction) where you may be eligible to have your case and sentence resolved, but only if:
- You are a first-time offender
- You are a drug abuser
- You have not been convicted of drug trafficking
- You have not been charged with a violent offense
- You do not have more than two non-drug felony convictions
- Your plea must have not have been to a first degree felony
- You are willing to have your case resolved in drug court
Another alternative resolution is to negotiate a “withhold of adjudication” where no conviction is entered on your record, and your driving privileges are not suspended, so long as you successfully complete a drug education or treatment program and all drug screening tests.
In 2014, the legislature revisited the drug laws and passed some reforms that raised the thresholds for trafficking and lowered the sentences for possession. The new sentencing reforms are not retroactive and only apply to sentences after July 1, 2014. The offenders whose sentences have already surpassed what they would have received under the new law can only petition for resentencing.
The following is a summary of the 5 categories of controlled substances with a list of the most commonly used or abused drugs. There are hundreds of drugs within these categories.
These drugs are not considered to have any medical value, have a high potential for abuse and any use under medical supervision does not meet accepted safety standards.
Commonly Used Schedule 1 Drugs:
- Cannabis (marijuana)
- Psilocybin (hallucinogenic mushrooms)
Schedule 1 Penalties
Possession of more than 10 grams for most controlled substances under Schedule 1, including heroin, is a first degree felony, carrying up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. If the weight is less than 10 grams, possession is a third degree felony, or up to 5 years and a $5,000 fine. You also will have your driver’s license suspended for any violation.
Trafficking carries much harsher penalties since you will receive a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine but the amounts you must possess to be charged vary from drug to drug. Here are some of the more common Schedule 1 drugs involved in trafficking, along with the minimum amount to have a mandatory minimum sentence imposed, are as follows:
Cannabis—25 pounds or 300 plants
Cocaine – 28 grams
LSD – 1 gram but less than 5 grams
The penalties and the mandatory minimum sentences increase as the amounts reach certain thresholds.
Drugs with a high potential for abuse with severely restricted medical use for treatment. Schedule II drugs are thought to portend severe psychological or physical dependence.
Commonly Used Schedule II Drugs:
Schedule II Penalties
Possession of at least 4 grams of any of these drugs is a second degree felony and you face up to 5 years in state prison and a fine up to $5,000. You also will have your driver’s license suspended.
Trafficking in a Schedule II drug carries the mandatory minimum prison time of 3 years and a $50,000 fine. The threshold amounts to be considered trafficking and which trigger the mandatory minimum sentence for the more commonly used substances are:
Hydrocodone – 14 grams to 28 grams (minimum of 23 pills)
Oxycodone – 7 grams to 14 grams
Ecstasy – 10 grams but less than 200 grams
Methamphetamine — 14 grams to 28 grams
As the weight of these drugs increase, the mandatory minimum sentences increase as well.
These drugs do have some potential for abuse, but also have a medically accepted use for treatment and may lead to a moderate or low risk of psychological or physical dependence. Anabolic steroids are classified under this category.
Commonly Used Schedule III Drugs:
Schedule III Penalties
Possession of a Schedule III controlled substance, which usually involves anabolic steroids used by weightlifters and athletes, can be charged either as a second degree felony with up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for sale of the drugs, or a third degree felony, which is up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The drugs in this classification have even less potential for abuse than the ones in the previous schedules and have a medically accepted use for treatment and have a mild risk for psychological or physical dependence.
Commonly Used Schedule IV Drugs:
Many of the Schedule IV drugs are prescription medications used by millions of people for anxiety, sleep or depression. Most crimes involve possession without a valid prescription, forging a prescription and obtaining a prescription by fraud.
Schedule IV Penalties
The sale of possession of any Schedule IV drug is a third degree felony with imprisonment of up to 5 years and a $5,000 fine. Possession of 4 grams but less than 14 for many of these drugs is a trafficking offense, which means a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine.
These drugs have a very small risk for abuse, are medically accepted for treatment and have a mild potential for psychological or physical dependence.
Commonly Used Schedule V Drugs:
- Triafed and Codeine
- Tylenol with Codeine
Schedule V Penalties
Illegal sales of a Schedule V drug is a first degree misdemeanor carrying up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $,1000.