Controlled substances in violation of federal law: FSA Eligibility

Controlled substances in violation of federal law: reimbursement is not eligible with a Flexible Savings Account (FSA)
If a controlled substance violates federal law, then the expense will not qualify even if a state law allows it with a prescription. For example, medical marijuana allowed in one state and prescribed by a doctor would not be eligible as it is prohibited by federal law. Therefore, controlled substances in violation of federal law are not eligible for reimbursement with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), limited-purpose flexible spending account (LPFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).

What are controlled substances in violation of federal law?

The term "controlled substances" traces its history back to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), signed in 1970 by President Richard Nixon. Over the course of U.S. history, there were myriad laws in place at the state and local level to regulate or outlaw addictive drugs and substances, and the CSA was an effort to combine all existing federal drug laws into a single statute. The creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) followed in 1973 by Nixon to regulate the use of these controlled substances.

The purpose of the CSA is to regulate the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances, including hallucinogens, narcotics, depressants and stimulants, which are organized into five "Schedules." These schedules are ranked by the drug's potential for abuse, its role in treating medical conditions or having discernible medical benefits and its regulation based on international treaties. The schedules are organized from 1-5, with Schedule I including the most harmful substances that are determined to have no medical benefit. As of 2016, the CSA Schedules are as follows via

Schedule I

These substances have no currently accepted medical use or a lack of acceptable safety for use under medical supervision (according to federal law), as well as a high potential for abuse.


: heroin, LSD, marijuana (cannabis), methaqualone, peyote and ecstasy.

Schedule II/IIN (2/2N)

These substances have a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence


: hydromorphone, methadone, meperidine, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, opium, codeine, hydrocodone, amphetamines, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate.

Schedule III/IIIN (3/3N)

These substances have a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II, but this abuse may still lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.


: products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit, buprenorphine, benzphetamine, phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.

Schedule IV

These substances have a low potential for abuse as opposed to substances in Schedule III.


: alprazolam, carisoprodol, clonazepam, clorazepate, diazepam, lorazepam, midazolam, temazepam, and triazolam.

Schedule V

These substances have a low potential for abuse as compared to those listed in Schedule IV. These substances consist primarily of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics.


: cough medications containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams and ezogabine.