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The term narcotic (//, from ancient Greek ναρκῶ narkō, "I make numb") originally referred medically to any psychoactive compound with numbing or paralyzing properties. In the United States, it has since become associated with opiates and opioids, commonly morphine and heroin, as well as derivatives of many of the compounds found within raw opium latex. The primary three are morphine, codeine, and thebaine (while thebaine itself is only very mildly psychoactive, it is a crucial precursor in the vast majority of semi-synthetic opioids, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone).
Legally speaking, the term "narcotic" may be imprecisely defined and typically has negative connotations. When used in a legal context in the U.S., a narcotic drug is totally prohibited, such as heroin, or one that is used in violation of legal regulation (in this word sense, equal to any controlled substance or illicit drug).
Statutory classification of a drug as a narcotic often increases the penalties for violation of drug control statutes. For example, although U.S. federal law classifies both cocaine and amphetamines as "Schedule II" drugs, the penalty for possession of cocaine is greater than the penalty for possession of amphetamines because cocaine, unlike amphetamines, is classified as a narcotic.