Illegal? [Rx drugs]

My girlfriend was caught with a prescription that was not hers (buspars, buspirone), and was charged with possession of drugs. This is not even a controlled substance. Is it still a crime for her to have had them in her possession?

Actually, it is: It’s prescription-only (at least in the US). It probably isn’t in the same schedule as, say, meth, but it’s still controlled.

Yes, illegal.

Not enough information to determine the answer. Were they in a prescription bottle with an intact label including the name of the person they were dispensed for? Did she have a reasonable reason for having them in her possession? Will her urine and blood test clear of the substance, and does she have a clean record otherwise? For example, were they her grandmother’s, did she pick them up from the pharmacy and sign for them and was she bringing them home to grandma’s? If so, then it’s unlikely she would be charged, and any lawyer who stayed mostly awake through law school will have no trouble getting the charges dropped.

If any of the answers are no, or “it’s complicated,” then she might have a problem.

(Also, I’ve reported your thread for moving to the In My Humble Opinion forum, where medical and legal questions go. No harm, no foul, but it will get more attention there and people will be more like to answer it there.)

Moderator Action

Welcome to the SDMB, glnwst.

Questions involving legal issues go in our In My Humble Opinion forum. You don’t need to do anything. I will move this thread for you.

Also note that any replies that you receive here are just opinions, and should not be considered the equivalent of professional legal advice.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

In the US, “Controlled” refers to Scheduled Drugs. While all prescriptions are controlled, they are never referred to as Controlled Substances. (I backed off on this once in a thread and had to backpedal the backpedal as it was made abundantly clear that in US terminology, Controlled = Scheduled.)

Are there places where that’s different? I understood it to be the case that “controlled substances” had been divided by “schedule” (so that “Scheduled Drugs” makes no sense, but a “Schedule II drug” does). Is there a different meaning elsewhere?

I agree with WhyNot that we don’t have enough information to know if what she was doing was illegal. Just being in possession of another person’s prescription isn’t illegal. I can carry my husband’s prescription meds in my purse for him. If I happen to have them in my purse, but he’s not with me, it’s not illegal.

Was she using the drugs? That’s illegal.

There’s a small contingent of Dopers who maintain that all prescription drugs are “Controlled Substances” because access to those substances is controlled via the prescription process. I prefer to believe they are not US citizens and the term is used differently elsewhere. Either that, or they’re Hopeless Pedants, but I’m President of the Hopeless Pedants’ Club, and they haven’t paid their dues this month, so…

I maintain that Controlled Substances means those drugs which were further-than-just-prescription regulated with the Controlled Substances Act.

I have picked up my girlfriend’s prescriptions at the pharmacy numerous times. So just having the drugs is not really an issue. WHY I have them might be a question a LEO might ask, if I were stopped and searched on another matter.

Broadly speaking you are correct, with the minor exception that Schedule V controlled substances do not even require a prescription at all; the law just limits the amount you can buy and you have to sign a buy book. That’s just the federal law, state and local laws in most areas are more strict and do require a prescription, as do the company policies of many pharmacy chains.

But assuming you do live in a town where you can buy low-grade codeine cough medicine without a script, then what makes it “controlled”? I think “controlled” in this sense is more about the monitoring and tracking aspect of control, rather than that of restricting access on an individual basis.

Technically OTC stuff in the USA is schedule 6, so even an Excedrin is scheduled.

I appreciate the responses. Sorry for posting in the wrong section. She was in the possession of the pills transporting them to the owner of them. However, for some strange reason this person had scratched off her name. No idea why. I’ve recently been told that when picking up others medication this is why the pharmacy seals the bag by staple or some other method. I was told by someone that it is indeed illegal to have anyone elses prescription even though I can’t find any information calling the pills a scheduled drug or a controlled substance. Either way it’s only a misdemeanor 3 so it’s a very minor charge. I just didn’t realize it could even be illegal.

I was unaware of this. Can you cite a federal statute or regulation that makes it so?

Also relevant would the circumstances under which they were even found. It’s not like the police just go around stopping people and checking their prescription bottles. How is it that the medications were found? What else was going on? That can affect whether they bother with charges or not, and how a hearing would go.

OK. This thread has got me concerned. If I go to the drugstore to pick up grandma’s prescription am I depending on the mercy of the police and prosecutor to avoid jail time? Am I violating a law?

Even if a properly trained lawyer might be able to convince someone to drop the charges, the idea of having to spend the weekend in jail until my bail hearing, putting up bail, taking time off of work to go to court hearings (if my employer doesn’t fire me), and cashing out my retirement fund to pay the lawyer seems rather inconvenient.

Let’s say I am a member of a disfavored minority group or it’s election year and the police/prosecutor are enforcing a zero-tolerance drug policy or I had an affair with the prosecutor’s wife, can they send me to jail for this?

It sounds to me like the issue here is that the name was scratched off the prescription bottle, which retired LEO husband says is a red flag. People don’t, as a routine practice, scratch their names off their own medication bottles.

It isn’t a problem to pick up meds for granny and take them to her. Although SO says he would be suspicious if you still had granny’s Lortab in your car a week after it was filled.

FWIW, I used to have a prescription for Lidocaine (it’s an infrequently used treatment for cluster headaches). Although I know it is technically illegal, I had a bottle without a pharmacy label because my doctor gave it to me. (It’s expensive because the pharmacy charges a gazillion dollars to compound it despite the fact that it comes already mixed). So, cut to teenaged kids thinking ‘ooh lidocaine! That sounds perfect for these blisters on my hands I got playing xbox!’ Not so perfect when the house is searched because daughter’s boyfriends brother is a thief and lidocaine is found in boyfriend’s room. We spoke with the arresting officers, and their view was cocaine, lidocaine, same thing. Plus, he had a prescription drug that wasn’t prescribed to him. Boyfriend wasn’t eligible for any kind of diversionary programs that would allow this FELONY to eventually be expunged, since he tested negative for drugs. Boyfriend just finished his five years of probation, and he and my daughter have spent thousands on probation fees and drug testing, not to mention the lost job opportunities because of the ‘drug conviction’. What a mess.

TL;DR Don’t get caught with somebody else’s medication. Especially when you’re in the company of sketchy people.

Maybe I just lived in a different part of the woods or something, but in my experience, cops don’t just randomly search cars and find pill bottles, then arrest people.

I tend to forget things, so I put something to remind me about a task in the passenger’s seat. I cannot remember how many times I’ve been driving around with a packaged and sterile syringe out in the open.

The one time I got pulled over for speeding with a package of 100 syringes, I showed them to Officer Friendly and he let me go because he understood that sick cats need their shots right now.

I was pulled over while driving a family member’s car once, and she had a prescription bottle in there that the officer noticed when I opened the glove box to get the registration. The police officer told me it was illegal for me to have it, but she wasn’t going to do anything about it because I obviously wasn’t doing anything wrong. Except for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign.

My pharmisist(s) always bag the medication and staple the Rx info over the top fold sealing the bag(s).

When I pick up Rx for my family members, I just toss 'em on my front seat and have zero concern about any trouble if I get pulled over for some reason.

It’s been my experience across a number of various pharmacies that the bag and tag is a very common practice for years now.