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Codeine
Legal Status
by Erowid
U.S. FEDERAL LAW #
Caution :   All legal information should be verified through other sources. [see below]
U.S. FEDERAL LEGAL SUMMARY
Codeine
REGULATED
Yes
STATUS
Scheduled
SCHEDULE
Schedule II, III when < 90mg / unit, V when < 200mg/100gm
CLASSIFICATION
- - -
Codeine is Schedule II in the United States. This means it is illegal to sell without a DEA license and illegal to buy or possess without a license or prescription.

Products such as Tylenol II-IV, which contain less than 90 mg codeine per dosage unit, are Schedule III. Products with less than 200 milligrams per 100 grams (or milliters) of dosage unit are Schedule V and are much less restricted.

In January 2014, the FDA announced that they were going to begin new, additional enforcement against unapproved prescription drugs in the US that contain codeine. See https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/01/10/2014-00257/unapproved-and-misbranded-oral-and-injectable-drugs-labeled-for-prescription-use-containing-codeine#print_view. Apparently drug manufacturers had been producing new, commercially-available compounded products that had not gone through the FDA's rigorous new product approval process.

U.S. STATE LAW #
Thanks to a submitter, we learned in January 2017 that we had missed that around twelve states in the U.S. offer low dose codeine (mostly as cough syrup) at some pharmacies without prescription. The preparations fall under Schedule V because of their low dose per unit and low total amount per package. We have been able to confirm most of them, but the list might include Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
Arkansas #
Arkansas allows pharmacists to sell low dose codeine cough syrup without a prescription. See https://arkansas.magellanrx.com/provider/docs/rxinfo/otclist.pdf (thanks E) (last updated Feb 1 2017)
Florida #
Florida might allows pharmacists to sell low dose codeine products without prescription. (unconfirmed) (last updated Feb 1 2017)
Georgia #
We believe that low dose codeine products are legal for sale by pharmacists in Georgia under their "Exempt Over-the-Counter (OTC) Schedule V Controlled Substances" rules. Title 16, Chapter 13, Article 2, Part 1: 16-13-29.2. See http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2015/title-16/chapter-13/article-2/part-1/section-16-13-29.2. (Thanks E) (last updated Feb 1 2017)
Illinois #
Illinois might allow behind-the-counter pharmacy sales of low dose codeine products, but we've been unable to confirm the law or individuals stating that they have recently purchased codeine over the counter without prescription. (unconfirmed) (last updated Jan 31 2017)
Indiana #
Indiana probably allowa pharmacist-only sales of low dose codeine products from Indiana's Schedule V under their "exempt narcotics" rule. See http://www.state.in.us/idem/recycle/files/unwanted_meds_indiana_substances_law.pdf and http://codes.findlaw.com/in/title-35-criminal-law-and-procedure/in-code-sect-35-48-4-7.html. (unconfirmed) (thanks E) (last updated Feb 1 2017)
Iowa #
Iowa allows pharmacists to sell Schedule V drug preparations, including low dose codeine products, according to 657—10.31(124,155A). See https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/iac/chapter/657.10.pdf and https://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?category=billinfo&service=IowaCode&input=124.212. (thanks E) (last updated Feb 1 2017)
North Carolina #
North Carolina has legal over the counter (OTC) sales of codeine, including the brand Cheratussin (10mg codeine + 100mg guaifenesin per 5ml). "A Schedule V substance may be sold at retail without a prescription only by a registered pharmacist and no other person, agent or employee may sell a Schedule V substance even if under the direct supervision of a pharmacist." See http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/enactedlegislation/statutes/html/byarticle/chapter_90/article_5.html. (thanks E) (last updated Jan 31 2017)
Ohio #
Ohio seems to exempt low dose codeine products from their main criminal penalty rules, which probably allows pharmacists to offer them for sale. See http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3719. (thanks E) (last updated Feb 1 2017)
Pennsylvania #
Pennsylvania allows the sale by pharmacists low dose codeine products, along with other Schedule V drugs (28 * 25.57. Nonprescription orders.) . See http://www.health.pa.gov/facilities/Consumers/Health%20Facilities/Home%20Health%20Services%20and%20Hospices/DDC/Laws/Code_28.pdf. (thanks E) (last updated Jan 31 2017)
If you have information about the legal status of this substance in any other U.S. state, please let us know.

INTERNATIONAL LAW #
Australia #
Products (Panadeine) containing low doses of codeine (10mg or less codeine per unit) are available over-the-counter in Australia from Pharmacies (chemists) as Schedule 2 preparations. Products containing higher quanitites (12mg per unit) are sold behind the counter at pharmacies (Schedule 3), and stronger products (30mg per unit) are available by prescription from a doctor only. See Australian Codeine Law. (thanks F) (last updated Jan 17 2012)
Bahamas #
Products containing low to moderate doses of codeine are available for puchase over-the-counter in the Bahamas. One product, for example, is sold containing 8 mg codeine to 400 mg aspirin.
Canada #
Codeine is Schedule I in Canada. Products containing low quantities of codeine (such as Tylenol 1) can be purchased over-the-counter, but products with higher quantities require a prescription.
Cayman Islands #
We don't have any information about the exact legal status of codeine in the Cayman Islands, but we've been told that at least some pharmacies have it available without a prescription. (thanks E)
Colombia #
One visitor reported that tramadal, codeine with acetaminophen, hydrocodone with ibuprofen (5/200), and dihydrocodeine by itself can be purchased in Colombia over the counter in any drug store. (unconfirmed) (thanks p) (last updated Jun 12 2013)
Costa Rica #
Available without prescription over the counter in Costa Rica. (thanks MB, JB) (Last Updated Feb 11 2009)
France #
Low codeine products (such as codotussil, neocodion) are available without prescription over the counter in France. (thanks Z,A) (Last Updated Apr 10 14 2014)
Greece #
We've received conflicting information about codeine's legal status in Greece. One visitor described it as prescription only and another said it is not available at all, being completely illegal to sell in Greece. (unconfirmed) (thanks A) (last updated Jun 14 2010)
Iran #
We've been told that in Iran codeine is available over-the-counter without much control. (unconfirmed) (thanks MS)
Japan #
Products containing codeine (such as products with Chlorpheniramine maleate or acetaminophen/paracetamol) can be purchased over-the-counter in Japan. (unconfirmed) (thanks G)
Kuwait #
Codeine is only available by prescription in Kuwait. (unconfimred) (thanks D) (last updated June 27 2010)
Lebanon #
Products containing codeine (such as Tylenol w/codeine) can be purchased over-the-counter in Lebanon.
Mexico #
Codeine is Schedule I in pure form in Mexico and Schedule II when compounded with other drugs (such as acetaminophen). Although it requires a prescription to purchase, visitors have reported that some pharmacies will sell codeine-containing products without prescription. (unconfirmed) (thanks r) (last updated May 22, 2013)
The Netherlands #
Codeine has a complicated legal status in the Netherlands. Codeine is available both with and without a prescription. The preparation, possession, adaption, delivery, providing and transport, of pure codeine is prohibited, because it’s scheduled on 'list I' of the 'Opium Law' (List I drugs are considered hard drugs). Conversely, low-dose codeine cough syrup (0.5 mg codeine phosphate/ml) is available without prescription, and is unregulated. Other preparations are available with a prescription only, but are not regulated by the Opium Law. Prescription preparations of codeine with (with more than 100 mg codeine in each dose and/or prescription preparations with a concentration over 2.5% codeine), are regulated by the Opium Law. Prescriptions for preparations with this quantity of codeine require to comply with special requirements of an Opium-Law-prescription. Possession of small quantities (for personal use) of prohibited substances is typically not prosecuted. Recreational use of codeine, is, as with any other substance, NOT prohibited in the Netherlands. (thanks K) (last updated Oct 11, 2012)
Nicaragua #
Products containing low to moderate doses of codeine are available for puchase over-the-counter in the Nicaragua. Listed as controlled. (unconfirmed) (thanks MC)
New Zealand #
Products containing up to 12 mg codeine per tablet can be purchased over-the-counter in New Zealand.
Poland #
Products containing up to 15 mg codeine per dose are sold over-the-counter, usually/always with other ingredients such as acetaminophen/paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen, sulfoguiacol, and other herbs. Higher doses of codeine require a prescription. (unconfirmed) (thanks N) (last updated jan 3 2010)
Portugal #
Tablets containing codeine plus other substances are sold in pharmacies, some are OTC, some are prescription only. Many pharmacies will sell without a prescription. (unconfirmed) (thanks X)
Russia #
After news reporting an increase in the use of "crocodile" (extracted codeine from pharmaceuticals), codeine was made a prescription medication in Russia. See http://www.rt.com/news/prime-time/codeine-drug-law-russia-845/. (thanks e) (last updated Jul 19, 2012)
Serbia #
One visitor describes that Codeine-containing pain relievers with 65mg codeine and 600mg ibuprofen per tablet are available over the counter widely in Serbia. (unconfirmed) (thanks j) (last updated May 16 2012)
Singapore #
One visitor described that Codeine-containing pain relievers are Class B in Singapore and require a prescription. Another visitor described that Panadeine (8 mg codeine + acetaminophen/paracetamol) is available without prescription behind the counter at pharmacies, requiring ID and recording ID info in a log book. (unconfirmed) (thanks DK,A) (last updated June 24 2010)
Spain #
One visitor described that in the Barcelona area codeine is available over the counter at pharmacies at 15mg codeine per 325mg paracetamol. (thanks Z) (last updated Apr 10 2014)
South Africa #
Codeine is available over the counter without prescription when sold at low doses in forms combined with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. (unconfirmed) (thanks c) (last updated Jul 22 2013)
Spain #
As of 2013, codeine is available over-the-counter in some areas (Catalunya), but not in others. (thanks jf) (last updated Sep 7 2013)
Sweden #
Codeine is only available in Sweden with a valid prescription through pharmacies. Use and possession without proper prescription is considered a crime with punishments including fines and jail time. (thanks jf) (last updated Sep 7 2013)
Thailand #
Codeine-containing pain relievers such as Tylenol-2's are now reportedly controlled in Thailand, and are now difficult to find for sale by pharmacists without a prescription. (thanks CP,A) (last updated Jun 2010)
Vietnam #
Codeine-containing pain relievers such as Efferalgan (an effervescent) are widely available without prescription over the counter at street pharmacies throughout Vietnam. As of June 2011, 100 tablets of 30mg codeine/500mg acetaminophen cost around $15USD. (thanks W, MPA) (last updated June 24 2011)
U.K. #
Codeine is Schedule II/Class b in the U.K., making it illegal to buy or possess without a prescription. Products containing small amounts of codeine (such as Tylenol w/codeine, Feminax (8 mg), and Solpadeine Max or Neurofen Plus (12.5 mg)) are available over-the-counter without prescription. Codeine Linctus (200ml 15mg/5ml) are available in some pharmacies with no prescription needed and can also be purchased via amazon.co.uk from a UK-based online pharmacy, requiring answers to questions by email to fill the order. (thanks c) (last updated Jan 19 2012)
Ukraine #
Although Russia has made codeine a prescription medication in Russia in 2012, the law has not yet changed in the Ukraine. See http://www.rt.com/news/prime-time/codeine-drug-law-russia-845/. (thanks e) (last updated Jul 19, 2012)
United Kingdom #
Some availability of codeine over the counter, but visitor reported that they were weak at 8mg codeine per 500mg acetaminophen/paracetamol. (unconfirmed) (thanks Z) (last updated Apr 10 2014)
Venezuela #
Codeine-containing product called Preveral available over-the-counter in Venezuela. (unconfirmed) (thanks M)
If you have information about the legal status of this substance in any other country, please let us know.

CAUTION & DISCLAIMER #
Erowid legal information is a summary of data gathered from site visitors, government documents, websites, and other resources. We are not lawyers and can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided here. We do our best to keep this information correct and up-to-date, but laws are complex and constantly changing. Laws may also vary from one jurisdiction to another (county, state, country, etc)...this list is not comprehensive.