Each of the five schedules of controlled substances has restrictions placed on access based on how potentially dangerous they are. Schedule II controlled substances are the most potent and potentially dangerous substances available with a doctor's prescription.
While it is common for doctors to prescribe some Schedule II substances, others have extremely limited medical uses. It is rare for doctors to prescribe them at all. Most of the time, their use is illicit and recreational. Louisiana law places special penalties on the possession, manufacture and distribution of these Schedule II substances.
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that produces a rush of euphoria. It decreases appetite and induces insomnia. The body quickly develops a tolerance for cocaine, meaning that people who use it require greater quantities to achieve the same effects. Acute effects of using cocaine can include stroke or heart attack due to its hypertensive effect on the cardiovascular system.
It is rare for doctors to prescribe cocaine because there are newer, more effective treatments. Nevertheless, it still has accepted medical uses to stop mucous membrane bleeding and to anesthetize the upper respiratory tract. Under Louisiana law, an unauthorized person producing cocaine or its analogs can face a fine of up to $500,000 and a prison term of at least 10 years and up to 30 years at hard labor, without parole for the first 10 years.
Like cocaine, methamphetamine is a stimulant drug. The effects of each are the same, but there may be a difference in degree. There is a strong association between meth use and damage to brain cells that produce the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine. This can happen with taking relatively low doses for a prolonged period.
Methamphetamine has extremely limited medical uses for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity. Under the brand name Desoxyn, it is available in tablets of 5 milligrams with a one-time prescription. The minimum sentence for manufacturing meth is 10 years of hard labor, unless a child was present at the time, in which case the law requires a sentence of at least 15 years without parole.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is possible for interested parties to petition for a change to a substance's schedule. If these substances became Schedule I drugs, they would no longer have acceptable medical uses. No known petitions are currently pending.
The previous installment discussed Schedule II substances with limited medical uses. It is rare for doctors to prescribe these drugs, so most of the manufacturing and distribution is illicit.
There are other Schedule II controlled substances that have much broader medical uses. Therefore, while there are still controls on access, doctors can prescribe them more frequently. Nevertheless, there are some that Louisiana law regards differently due to the greater risks that they pose.
According to the DEA, methadone is a man-made narcotic first synthesized during World War II to compensate for a shortage of morphine. It has accepted medical uses for pain relief and easing withdrawal symptoms of other narcotics as part of addiction treatment. Nevertheless, abuse of methadone can cause psychological dependence. In Louisiana, possession of fewer than two grams of methadone can mean a $5,000 fine and up to two years in prison, while more than two grams but less than 28 grams can mean a prison sentence between one and five years.
Fentanyl is a very effective narcotic pain reliever because of its extreme potency. It is 100 times stronger than morphine. Unfortunately, because fentanyl is so strong, it is possible to overdose with exposure to a very small amount, whether intentional or accidental. Because fentanyl overdose can prove fatal, Louisiana law places stricter penalties on fentanyl possession than many other narcotics. Possession of fewer than two grams of fentanyl means a prison sentence of two to four years while possessing more than two grams but less than 28 means a prison term between two to 10 years, plus a fine of up to $10,000.
With regard to fentanyl possession, the law gives Louisiana courts the option of giving probation instead of prison time for the purpose of determining whether an individual has a substance abuse disorder. If so, he or she may have to undergo a drug treatment program as a condition of the probation.
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