A doctor’s recommendation makes it legal for someone to acquire and use medication that would otherwise be illegal for someone to possess. A variety of drugs, from mental health medications to narcotic pain relievers are subject to oversight and control by medical professionals to prevent abuse or health risks associated with those medications.
Patients recently prescribed a new drug often believe they can do whatever they want with their medication. They may eventually learn the hard way that it is still possible for someone with a valid prescription to get arrested for what they do with their medication. These are some of the most common reasons that Pennsylvania prosecutes people for prescription medications.
Giving or selling medication to others
If a doctor writes a prescription for more pills than someone requires, they might feel ashamed of wasting the leftover medication. It might seem like a financial loss to have paid for the medicine only to leave it unused. People might sell the remainder of their prescription to a neighbor who uses the same medication. More frequently, they might keep it in their medicine cabinet and then give it to family members or friends who experience some kind of medical difficulty. The act of transferring a controlled substance, particularly those with a high risk of abuse, to other people can lead to criminal prosecution.
Driving after taking medication
Many people recognize that cold medication and pain relievers can affect their driving performance. What they may not realize is that dozens of drugs have a negative association with someone’s functional abilities at the wheel. Those who get behind the wheel after taking a muscle relaxer or an anti-epilepsy drug could end up arrested just like those who are under the influence of narcotics or alcohol might.
Acquiring medication illegally
Perhaps someone has lost their health insurance and cannot afford to go back to the doctor to renew a prescription. Maybe their doctor has ended their recommendation for a particular pain reliever or stimulant out of concern that someone may have abused those drugs. Some people who have previously had a valid medical recommendation for prescription drugs will attempt to acquire the same substances on the unregulated market. Getting caught during a transaction or in possession of medication acquired from someone other than a licensed medical professional might lead to someone’s prosecution.
Understanding when Pennsylvania might pursue drug charges against those who take prescribed medications could help people avoid unintentionally breaking the law. This understanding can also help those who have been accused of wrongdoing to better consider options for their defense.