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Just how serious does Arkansas treat the crime of drug possession?

There is no disputing that attitudes toward drug crimes here in the U.S. have undergone a considerable shift as of late with citizens, politicians and even law enforcement officials starting to see that the societal costs of mandatory sentencing laws are perhaps too high.

As encouraging as this is, real and meaningful change has been slow to occur at the state level. Indeed, the penalties for drug crimes here in Arkansas remain incredibly severe, even for a seemingly minor offense like possession of a controlled substance for personal use.

In order to understand how harshly the state can punish those charged with this offense, it's necessary to first understand how exactly it classifies "controlled substances."    

How exactly does Arkansas classify controlled substances?

Controlled substances in Arkansas are essentially divided among six separate schedules (I-VI) based on such factors as their potential for abuse, accepted medical uses, and levels of both possible physical and psychological dependence should abuse occur.

What are the criteria for schedule I drugs?

Schedule I drugs are those that have a very high potential for abuse and no accepted medical uses.

What are the criteria for schedule III drugs?

Schedule III drugs are those that have a potential for abuse (lower than schedule I or schedule II) and accepted medical uses. Furthermore, abuse of these drugs is viewed as likely resulting in moderate or low physical dependence, but high psychological dependence.

What are the criteria for schedule VI drugs?

Schedule VI drugs are those that have no accepted medical uses, are considered unsafe even under medical supervision, have high levels of possible physical and psychological dependence should abuse occur, and present a "definite risk to public health." Curiously, state law classifies marijuana under this category.

Here's hoping that the following provided a general idea of the drug classification scheme here in Arkansas. We'll continue to examine the penalties for possession of a controlled substance for personal use in future posts.

In the meantime, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you've been charged with any sort of drug-related offense.

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