Many people assume that, because they have a medical use, prescription drugs are “legal drugs.” However, federal and state laws consider many medications controlled substances.
Just as with illegal drugs like marijuana or methamphetamine, possessing or sharing another person’s prescription, even a family member’s, may lead to drug charges.
What prescription medications may be problematic?
The law categorizes controlled substances, including prescription medications, into schedules I through VI according to accepted medical use and potential for addiction. Common medications that could lead to drug abuse charges include:
- Schedule II: methadone, OxyContin, codeine, morphine
- Schedule III: Vicodin, Suboxone, ketamine
- Schedule IV: Valium, Zanax, Klonopin, Ativan
What types of charges might prescription drugs involve?
Having or using a controlled medication without a valid prescription could lead to possession charges. Additionally, an individual may face distribution charges if he or she shares or sells a prescription drug.
Depending on the drug’s schedule, a possession conviction for a prescription medication may be a Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor, and a distribution charge may result in a felony conviction.
How might drug possession charges happen?
Even with a valid prescription, carrying a controlled medication in a container other than the original bottle may lead to arrest. While it is not illegal to transport medications in another container, the pharmacist’s label provides proof that the individual has a current, legitimate prescription.
In addition to the potential for imprisonment and steep fines, a conviction for prescription drug abuse may have a lasting impact on employment, housing and educational opportunities. Those facing charges should know that a strong defense may help to minimize the potential consequences.