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Occupational and Environmental Safety

Controlled Substances - Getting Started

What are Controlled Substances?

Controlled Substances are drugs for which there is a potential for abuse/addiction. Controlled Substances are divided into Schedules I -V depending on their medical use in the United States and relative potential for abuse and dependence.

  • Schedule I Controlled Substances currently have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
  • Schedule II Controlled Substances have a currently accepted medical use but high potential for abuse.
  • Schedule III – V Controlled Substances have medical use and lower potential for abuse than Schedule II substances.

Some prescription drugs are Controlled Substances. If you use Controlled Substances in research, then you must follow the rules for Controlled Substances to obtain them.

Can I use controlled substances in my research?

Yes, but you are required to obtain specific permits/licenses before you can procure controlled substances. In South Carolina, you are required to obtain a license from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and a registration with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC).

Note: all individual investigators who use controlled substances in their research much obtain individual RESEARCH licenses—you may not distribute controlled substances to another investigator who does not have applicable licenses/permits for possessing that substance.

In addition, the Clemson’s Attending Veterinarian may NOT provide controlled substances to investigators.

What agencies regulate the use of controlled substances?

The use of controlled substances is regulated by federal and state laws and regulations. The U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is the lead federal law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing these laws and regulations.

In South Carolina, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) provides the oversight.

Both federal and state guidelines govern the responsible use of controlled substances in research, and the use of controlled substances by researchers requires registration and licensing at the federal and state levels.

1. Obtain an annual registration for SC DHEC.

Researcher Applicants
To apply submit:

  1. DHEC Form 1026 (PDF)*
  2. A research protocol

*This form is mailed to the address at the top of the form.

Upon receipt of the application payment and protocol, one of our inspectors will contact you to schedule a pre-inspection.

2. Register with the DEA.

Federal DEA applications are available on the DEA Web site at

Note registrations are based on LOCATION of where the controlled substances are stored. You must file a separate application for each location.

What if I already have a DEA registration but it’s for another institution outside of South Carolina?

If you currently have a federal DEA registration, you may transfer your registration by going to the U.S. DEA website and completing an address change request after first obtaining a South Carolina Controlled Substances Registration. (The addresses on the DEA and South Carolina registrations must match.)

How long does it take to get this paperwork approved?

Plan on weeks to months. The DEA and SC DHEC must visit your facility prior to approval to verify the proper storage and access controls are in place. The timing will vary on how busy their agents are.

To find out if your application has been processed, call the DHEC office at (803) 896-4426 or access the Verification of S.C. Controlled Substances Registration link to check on the status of your application.

How often to I have to renew?

SC DHEC requires an annual renewal by April 1 of each year, regardless of what month your registration is issued.

DEA requires a renewal every year from the month issued.

Note that if you add a new controlled substance, you must amend both registrations with the updated information.

How much does this cost?

The fee for registration with DHEC will be $125.

The fee for DEA is $296. You may qualify for a waiver of the fee, per regulations.

What else do I need to know?

Please see the page for Controlled Substance Requirements to understand your documentation and reporting requirements.