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    DEA Approved Safes for Schedule I & II Drugs

    DEA Approved Safes for Schedule I & II Drugs

    DEA Approved Safes for Schedule I & II Drugs

    There are five schedules of controlled substances, I, II, III, IV, and V, and all of these substances require different levels of safety measures and storage standards based on DEA guidelines. Regulations also differ between practitioners and non-practitioners; we will be discussing why DEA-approved safes are needed and what makes a safe approved to store schedule I & II drugs for non-practitioners, which includes research programs and drug treatment centers.

    "For researchers and drug treatment programs they have specific requirements for safes*, but for practitioners including pharmacies they are required to have a “substantially constructed cabinet” or to disperse medications in the pharmacy. **Pharmacies may choose their own safe or cabinet if they decide to, and train staff accordingly."

    Jenny Arnold, Pharm.D., BCPS, Washington State Pharmacy Association

    • * § 1301.73 Physical security controls for non-practitioners; compounders for narcotic treatment programs; manufacturing and compounding areas.
    • ** § 1301.75 Physical security controls for practitioners.

    Source: Federal Register's Code of Federal Regulations

    For the next 3 questions, we reached out to Dr. Giannoti, a well-renowned addiction specialist and Medical Director at Symetria Recovery, a rehabilitation center with 12 clinics in Illinois, Houston, and Dallas in the U.S.

    Why is it important that schedule I & II substances remain locked up at a drug treatment center?

    Scheduled drugs have a high potential for misuse and diversion so they must be stored securely with supplies always accounted for. Treatment centers must comply with DEA regulations which include the provision that “all controlled substances must be stored behind at least two differently keyed locks at all times.


    1. What are schedule I-V controlled substances?

    Schedule I — drugs with a high abuse risk. These drugs have NO safe, accepted medical use in the United States. Some examples are heroin, marijuana, LSD, PCP, and crack cocaine.

    Schedule II — drugs with a high abuse risk, but also have safe and accepted medical uses in the United States. These drugs can cause severe psychological or physical dependence. Schedule II drugs include certain narcotic, stimulant, and depressant drugs. Some examples are morphine, cocaine, oxycodone (Percodan®), methylphenidate (Ritalin®), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®).

    Schedule III, IV, or V — drugs with an abuse risk less than Schedule II. These drugs also have safe and accepted medical uses in the United States. Schedule III, IV, or V drugs include those containing smaller amounts of certain narcotic and non-narcotic drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, tranquilizers, sedatives, stimulants, and non-narcotic analgesics. Some examples are acetaminophen with codeine (Tylenol® No.3), paregoric, diazepam (Valium®), alprazolam (Xanax®), propoxyphene (Darvon®), and pentazocine (Talwin®).

    2. When a patient arrives with drugs on their person, what steps are taken to secure their controlled substances?

    Inpatient treatment centers will secure all of a patient’s belongings prior to admission, including all medications and drugs in his/her possession. Illegal (schedule I) or non-prescribed schedule II-V drugs are secured and disposed of. Prescribed medications that are appropriate for patients to continue will be stored in an appropriate safe or other secured area and returned to them upon their discharge.

    3. Which features are the most important in a safe used to store schedule I & II substances?

    The DEA is very specific on this question, specifying that a safe or steel cabinet must be of “substantial construction” and should be mounted/secured (to wall or floor) if less than 750 lbs. in weight. It must have an inner and outer door with differently keyed locks.

    Safe Expert, Dominic Schwebs: DEA Approved Safes for Schedule I & II drugs

    Dominic Schwebs, Safe & Security Expert & Digital Marketing Manager for talks about DEA approved safes for Schedule I & II drugs.

    Watch the YouTube video or scroll down to read the contents of the video.


    The DEA has strict requirements for Schedule I & II drugs regarding safe storage. We understand the information can be overwhelming, so we decided to break down the details to help you purchase the right DEA-approved safe for your needs.

    Each safe needs to weigh at least 750 pounds. If the safe weighs less than 750 pounds, it must be bolted to the floor.

    The DEA requires that any Schedule I & II drugs need to be stored in a minimum of a TL-30 rated safe and it must also have an Underwriters Laboratory listed Group 1R dial combination lock.

    What does the TL-30 rating mean? This is a physical test done by Underwriters Laboratory who are the best safe crackers in the world. The testers are allowed 30 minutes and tools such as hammers, chisels, wrenches, pry bars, punches, screwdrivers, abrasive cutting wheels, and power saws to help them gain entrance to the safe.

    DEA Approved Safes for Schedule I & II Drugs

    The TL-30 label means that the testers were unable to open the door or make a 6" square opening entirely through the door or front face within 30 minutes. Remember that the engineers have the manufacturing blueprints and can disassemble the safe being tested before the test begins to see how it works. They really know their stuff.

    DEA Approved Safes | Lock

    A UL Listed Group 1R lock is resistant to skilled manipulation attacks for up to 20 hours. They are also resistant to 20 hours of a radiological attack. Radiological attacks are attempts to bring something like a portal X-Ray machine up to the safe to see the inner workings of the lock.


    DEA Approved Safes | Lock


    This lock is an example here has plastic tumblers to prevent someone from seeing the inner workings of the lock. This is a very advanced mechanical lock.



    Schedule III, IV & V drugs have a lower potential for abuse and don't need to be in as secure of a safe. The regulations just state that they must be stored in a safe with a minimum of 11-gauge steel.

    We have many different options for this type of safe that have multiple shelves or drawers for organization and storage. Shop Here. 


    Schedule I & II controlled substances

    Always check with your DEA representative before purchasing a safe to make sure it meets the correct qualifications.


    If you have any questions about DEA Approved Safes or which safes are right for you, just let us know. We are here to help. Feel free to reach out to us via e-mail, chat, or phone at 800-207-2259.

    Our safe experts will help you find the perfect storage solution.

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