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Could filling a loved one’s prescriptions result in criminal charges?

Prescription drugs can be just about as dangerous as illegal street drugs. Although prescription medications have standardized dosages and quality control laws that protect patients, these medications can still hurt people.

Narcotic painkillers, for example, can result in chemical dependence or addiction. Typically safe medications could become dangerous if mixed with another drug or alcohol. Some people even intentionally misuse prescription drugs to produce an off-label, recreational effect.

Trying to limit the harm caused by prescription drugs has led to extensive laws regulating controlled substances. Typically, only someone with a valid prescription can have a controlled substance. Does that mean that you break the law by picking up a loved one’s prescription?

Federal law allows caregivers to fill and transport prescriptions

Some people can’t drive because they have medical issues or for other reasons. Others work full-time and need the help of someone who can get to the pharmacy during business hours.

Regardless of the situation, you can pick up prescription medication on behalf of someone without breaking the law. However, you only have the right to collect the prescription at the pharmacy and transport it to your loved one. Other actions that you take could run afoul of the law.

You shouldn’t store or use someone else’s prescription

Once you pick up a prescription medication for someone else, you should give it to them as soon as possible. If police stop you in your vehicle or while walking down the street and discover you in the possession of someone else’s prescription, they might arrest you.

There’s a greater chance of arrest if the receipt or the label on the prescription vial shows that you have had the medication for more than one day. If the medication is open, your risk may be even higher.

If someone else already has a medication, you will take a legal risk if you agree to transport it after they use it or store it on their behalf. If the police catch you in possession of someone else’s medication, they could assume that you intend to violate the law by using that medication or selling it, even if you had no criminal intentions.

Facing criminal charges related to a prescription drug can result in the same penalties and social stigma that prohibited drugs can carry. That’s why it’s important to seek experienced legal guidance.