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.