In the state of Colorado, drug offenses are taken seriously and the penalties for these crimes can be severe. Colorado law categorizes drugs into different schedules to determine the severity of the offense along with the appropriate penalties. The penalties depend on several factors which include the type of drug, the quantity of drug, and the defendant’s criminal history. The schedules range from Schedule I, which includes the most dangerous drugs, Schedule V, which includes the least dangerous drugs. 

Schedule I 

Possession of a schedule I drug in Colorado is a felony. Schedule 1 drugs are those considered to have high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. In Colorado, schedule 1 drugs include heroin, LSD, Cocaine, Peyote, Methaqualone, and ecstasy. For those under the age of twenty-one, possession of Marijuana is also a schedule 1 drug charge. The penalties for this schedule can include fines and prison depending on the quantity of drug a person has. According to the Greeley drug crime defense attorneys at Martin and Reed, “class 1 felonies, such as selling schedule I or II drugs to a minor are punishable by 8 to 30 years in prison and fines up to $1,000,000.” 

Schedule II

In Colorado, schedule II drugs in Colorado are considered to have a high potential for abuse, but they could have some medical use. They include opioids, such as Oxycontin, fentanyl, methadone, and certain stimulants such as methamphetamines. The penalties for possessing and/or selling a schedule II drug in Colorado include fines and prison time, ranging from less than 18 months to 30 years in prison. This crime is a felony, and should not be taken lightly. 

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs in Colorado have accepted medical uses, but also have the potential for abuse. In Colorado, they include ketamine, anabolic steroids, barbiturates, and codeine. Possessing a Schedule III drug is a misdemeanor. Although the penalty for possession of a schedule III is less than possession of a schedule I or II, the penalties still include fines and up to six months in jail. 

Schedule IV 

Schedule IV drugs are those with accepted medical uses and less potential for abuse. These drugs may lead to psychological and physical dependence, which is why possessing them without a prescription is a misdemeanor and can include fines and up to one year in jail. Examples of Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Valium, and other anti-anxiety medications and sedatives. 

Schedule V

Schedule V has a low potential for abuse and widely accepted medical uses. In Colorado, Schedule V drugs are over-the-counter medications such as cough and cold medicines. Examples include codeine and anti-diarrhea medication. These drugs are not illegal with a prescription, but without a prescription possessing one of these drugs can include fines and up to six months of jail time. 

It is important to note that even though a drug is a lower schedule, it does not mean that it is safe or that there will not be penalties for possessing or selling it. Even schedule V drugs can lead to addiction. Another thing to keep in mind is that Colorado’s drug schedules are different from federal drug schedules. At the federal level, some drugs may be considered more or less dangerous than they are in Colorado.  For example, recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado for those over the age 21, but at the Federal level, recreational marijuana is a Schedule I drug. 

Understanding the various drug schedules in Colorado is important for anyone who may be facing drug charges or who wants to avoid drug charges. It is crucial to understand the potential penalties for the possession or distribution of different drugs, as well as the legal exceptions that may apply. However, the best way to avoid drug charges is to stay away from illicit drugs and to seek help if one has a substance abuse issue.