Controlled Substances & Prescription Monitoring in Arizona

pills, drugs, arizona controlled substance act

Controlled Substances & Prescription Monitoring in Arizona


According to Arizona’s Prescription Monitoring program, there are approximately 524 million pills dispensed annually in Arizona. 1,106 Arizona opioid related deaths were reported in 2018. The Arizona controlled substance act, Title 36, Chapter 27, regulates the manufacture, prescription, administration, and distribution of controlled substances. But what is legally considered a controlled substance? And what are the legal ramifications of violating the Arizona controlled substance act?

At Coolidge Law firm, we want to help you understand exactly what the Arizona controlled substance act aims to do, and how Arizona medical and pharmaceutical professionals can maintain compliance.


What is the Arizona Controlled Substance Act?

This act regulates the prescribing, administering and dispensing of drugs. Specifically, which drugs can be prescribed and by whom. It also contains language dictating who may possess or transport controlled substances. Essentially, this piece of legislation aims to prevent potentially dangerous narcotics from falling into the wrong hands.


Drug Scheduling

Drugs have different levels, or schedules. The Arizona controlled substance act has different rules for each type. The schedules help to categorize drugs into different levels according to how dangerous they can be. Schedule I is the most dangerous, and Schedule V is the least dangerous.


Schedule I—No current medically accepted use, and a high potential for abuse. May not be prescribed by any practicing medical professional.

Examples: heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. 

Cannabis is still considered a Schedule I narcotic, but may be prescribed to individuals with certain debilitating diseases as a result of the 2010 Proposition 203—the Medical Marijuana Act.


Schedule II—High potential for abuse, with potential for psychological or physical dependence. Also considered to be dangerous. May only be prescribed by physicians.

Examples: Vicodin, cocaine, OxyContin, and Ritalin.


Schedule III—Moderate to low potential for physical or psychological dependence. 

Examples: Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.


Schedule IV—Low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.

Examples: Xanax, Valium, Tramadol, and Ativan


Schedule V—Lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs, and contain limited quantities of certain narcotics. Generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes.

Examples: Robitussin AC, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin


What is prescription monitoring

In 2007, Arizona State Legislature passed House Bill 2136, which established the Prescription Monitoring Program. The main function of this bill is to require professionals to record the dispensing of schedule II, III, and IV drugs.

Arizona has a central database where drug prescribers can go to see updated prescription drug information, and to log the dispensation of prescription drugs. It also has a list of patient warning signs for professionals to look for in the event that they believe a patient may be abusing prescription drugs.


Penalties for violations

Violating the Arizona Controlled Substances act is a class 4 felony. Examples of violations include:

  • Manufacturing illicit drugs
  • Failure to keep accurate records of controlled substance distribution/manufacture
  • Dispensing or delivering anabolic steroids without a written prescription
  • Forging a prescription for a controlled substance

These penalties apply specifically to practicing medical professionals, pharmacy employees, and drug manufacturers. Arizonans who are in possession of “dangerous drugs” also face a class 4 felony under Arizona Title 13-3407.


Criminal Possession Attorney in Phoenix, Arizona

For legal representation, contact our attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm. Todd Coolidge and his team of experienced legal professionals will fight for you and your future.