Schedules Of Psychotropic Substances

A psychotropic substance is assigned to one of four schedules by balancing the drug's potential for abuse and the threat it poses to the public health against its therapeutic behefits. The placement of a drug in one of the schedules affects its trade, manufacture, distribution, and use. Hallucinogens and other drugs that are of no—or severely limited— medical use are placed in schedule I. Schedule I substances, the most stringently regulated of the four schedules, may only be used for scientific and limited medical purposes in government-operated licensed establishments. The manufacture, trade, distribution, and possession of these substances require special licensing or authorization from the government. The amounts of these substances that may be supplied, imported, and exported are limited, even for authorized uses, and records of their use must be kept.

Schedule II drugs, such as METHAQUALONE and amphetamines, possess a high potential for abuse and limited medical usefulness, and therefore they are subject to tighter controls over their production and trade than substances in schedule III and schedule IV. Governments must issue special import and export authorizations before these drugs can be traded internationally. Experience has shown that placement of a substance in schedule II severely reduces its use.

Schedule III and schedule IV have been assigned to such drugs as depressants, sedative hypnotics, anxiolytics, barbiturates, and minor tranquilizers. Individuals and businesses involved in the manufacture, trade, and distribution of schedule III and schedule IV psychotropic substances must have licenses from the government. They must maintain records of the manufacture and wholesale trade, import, and export of these substances. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated several drugs in schedule IV, including BENZODIAZEPINES such as diazepam (Valium®) and alprazolam (Xanax®), ''essential drugs'' that governments must assure are available for medical purposes.

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