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Am I guilty of a crime if I share my prescription medication?

Imagine this: You've just had surgery, after which you are prescribed an opiate painkiller such as Percocet or Oxycodone. You take the pills for awhile, but quickly realize you won't need all of them. A friend of yours, however, has been complaining of pain and could benefit from your remaining pills. You ask yourself: Is it okay if I give them my remaining pills?

If you answered yes to the hypothetical question above, you may not realize that by giving your friend your remaining prescription medication, you're actually breaking state and federal drug laws. You could face serious drug charges for this seemingly innocent act, leaving you in need of legal counsel and a good defense strategy. 

Drug trafficking and distribution laws

The reason why giving away prescription medication is considered a drug crime is because many prescription drugs qualify as controlled substances. As the Drug Enforcement Administration schedules outline, several common medications could lead to drug charges, including:

Schedule II

  • Vicodin (hydrocodone)
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Methadone
  • Demerol (meperidine)
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin

Schedule III

  • Tylenol with codeine
  • Anabolic steroids

Schedule IV

  • Ambien
  • Valium
  • Xanax

Schedule V

  • Robitussin AC (cough medication with 200 mg or less of codeine)

What are the possible penalties?

Whether an individual who gives prescription medication to a friend receives money or not is irrelevant in the eyes of the law as this action constitutes drug trafficking. As this DEA penalty chart explains, while a drug charge associated with the illegal distribution of a Schedule V drug may only lead to no more than a year in jail for a first offense, distributing a Schedule II substance could lead to as much as 20 years in prison for a first offense.

Best intentions may not result in the best outcomes

While your intentions to help your friend in the hypothetical situation above may have been well mannered, the consequences of giving a controlled substance prescription drug to a friend could lead to severe consequences for you. Erring on the side of caution is always best and to remember that you always have the right to legal counsel if you are facing criminal charges. 

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

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