Dextromethorphan: Legal consequences

Last modified: Saturday, 30. May 2009 - 3:41 pm

With the exception of some restrictions on product placement in states such as Utah, there are no significant Legal consequences for using, abusing, producing, and selling dextromethorphan.

Legal history

Opiates were legal in the United States until a federal law was enacted in 1914. Until then, it was legal to put opiates into patent medicines, for example, that were sold over-the-counter. The 1914 law was the first to regulate the sale and distribution of controlled substances. This law was not enacted to benefit public health, however, but to generate tax revenue.

Federal guidelines, regulations, and penalties

Dextromethorphan is not classified as a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. The CSA was created as a means to regulate the distribution and use of prescription drugs that are highly addictive, such as codeine, oxycodone, morphine, and hydromorphone.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are aggressively monitoring the use and abuse of dextromethorphan. It is conceivable that dextromethorphan could be first classified as a drug obtainable only with a prescription. Furthermore, the DEA could place dextromethorphan on one of its schedules of controlled substances, which would force physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and hospitals to record the administration of the drug. At this stage, the former is far more likely than the latter since it has not been proven that dextromethorphan is an addictive substance.

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