Narcotic drugs ("Betäubungsmittel", BtM) as defined by the German Narcotic Drugs Act ("Betäubungsmittelgesetz", BtMG) are the substances and preparations listed in Schedules I to III of that Act. A substance or preparation is included in these Schedules if this is scientifically justified based on its mode of action. Also a substance's potential to cause dependence, the possibility of producing narcotics from it, or the extent of abuse as well as its direct or indirect danger to health can lead to its inclusion in the Schedules. Such substances and preparations are also subject to the BtMG if required based on amendments to the Schedules to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 or the Convention of 1971 on Psychotropic Substances.
In Germany, control of the legal trade in narcotic drugs belongs to the tasks of the Federal Opium Agency at the BfArM. However, there are the following exceptions to this rule that are within the responsibility of the respective competent health authorities of the "Laender": the traffic in narcotics involving physicians, dentists, and veterinarians as well as in pharmacies, veterinary dispensaries, hospitals, and animal hospitals.