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A controlled substance is a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession, or use is regulated by the government due to its potential for abuse, addiction, or harm.

Controlled substances are categorized into schedules based on their medical use, potential for abuse, and safety under medical supervision. In the United States, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) defines five schedules, with Schedule I substances having the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, and Schedule V substances having the lowest potential for abuse and accepted medical uses.

Examples of controlled substances include prescription medications like opioids, stimulants, and benzodiazepines, as well as illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana (although marijuana’s legal status varies by state). The manufacture, distribution, possession, and use of controlled substances are strictly regulated, with penalties for illegal activities involving these substances.