Prescription drugs are intended for use by which only the person they are prescribed. However, sometimes that person shares their medication with another. This act brings the question of whether a person can go to prison for sharing prescription drugs. Many Maryland residents are under the impression that if they obtain medications from a relative, it is not illegal. After all, you are not getting illicit drugs from the shady drug dealer on the corner. The truth is, though, sharing prescription medication is illegal, whether you are aware or unaware of the use.
As a prescription drug user, you think you are helping someone when you offer them a pill from your medicine cabinet. They seem to be suffering the same condition as you, and this medicine helps you so it can obviously help them too, right? However, sharing prescribed drugs is still illegal. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines misuse as: “Taking a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed; taking someone else’s prescription, even if for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain; or taking a medication to feel euphoria (i.e., to get high).”
The court considers a variety of factors when charging someone with a drug crime. Further, there are mandatory minimums for prescription drug possession. Upon a conviction, you will face fines, court costs, and attorney fees. There is the possibility that you will be placed on house arrest or probation. You also need to complete a drug diversion program. The worst outcome is a jail sentence. The upside is a Crofton and Bowie drug crime defense lawyer can work to reduce and even dismiss charges. We will need to look at the individual factors of your case to determine the possible outcome and recourse.
Can you share your Adderall or Zoloft?
You should not share your medications. Even though it is illegal, many individuals do so without weighing the potential consequences. Some of the most commonly shared prescription drugs include:
- Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and other stimulants
- Opioids like Vicodin, morphine, Demerol, Norco, and OxyContin
- Central nervous system depressants like Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax
Some of the above medications, such as Adderall, are considered controlled substances. These medications should not be shared as there is a higher chance of misuse and addiction. No one should access or take these medications without a valid prescription. Medical professionals can get into legal trouble if they dispense or prescribe these medications incorrectly.
What side effects can a person experience when taking another’s medication?
There are short and long-term side effects of taking these medications without a prescription. When a doctor prescribes you medication, they factor in your medical history and the possibility of side effects. When you share your medicine with another person, there is no physician oversight. Some dangers of using another’s prescription drugs include:
- Worsening health condition
- Drug allergies
- The medication could be expired
- Interactions with other drugs, vitamins, foods, or supplements
- Incorrect dosage amounts and lack of titration
- Prescription drug use disorder
There are many aspects of sharing prescriptions, and you should always avoid sharing medication. Medical professionals can also get into legal trouble if they prescribe a drug to you that they know will be used by another party. If someone has taken your medication without your knowledge, an entire host of legal issues come into play, which our attorneys can explain in detail.
Is there a time when you CAN share your prescription drugs?
Maryland has a Good Samaritan law that provides criminal immunity when an individual helps a person in distress from a drug or alcohol emergency. Both parties are immune from prosecution. The law is not specific about administering prescription medication to a person in distress, but this law can be a possible defense. It does not specify how you can help, solely that you can help. For example, you can call for help and administer Narcan to save a person’s life. Other drugs are left to the court’s interpretation. Your Crofton and Bowie drug crimes defense lawyer can explain more.
What happens if the person I gave medication to is involved in an accident or dies?
While your intention to help a friend or family member did not involve malice, this may not matter to the court. If you offer someone a prescription drug and they get into an accident or overdose, what happens to you? There have been instances where the family member or friend of the deceased is charged with murder. The person with the prescription shared the drugs, and another person died. This may be a dramatic outcome, but it is always possible.
Drugs can alter a person’s mental state, and it can be dangerous to get behind the wheel. When a toxicology report is done on a deceased person, any drugs in their system at the time will appear. These findings can raise flags for the medical examiner and others involved in the case. They can investigate where the person obtained these drugs and try to hold you liable.
Defenses for drug distribution or possession
There are some defenses our drug crime defense team can use to build your case. We apply the following arguments depending on the issue:
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge of possession
- Legal possession
- Illegal search and seizure
Ignorance of the law is tricky to address and use in these cases, but you should discuss your options with a criminal defense lawyer. We will also consider the Good Samaritan law as a possible defense.
The use or sharing of prescription drugs can affect both the prescribed person and the person without the prescription. You can face a charge for illegal drug possession or intent to sell/distribute. Either party can face a felony or misdemeanor charge. We understand this is scary but do not fear because you have legal options. Contact a Crofton or Bowie criminal defense lawyer from Carey Law Office at 301-464-2500, or submit our contact form to schedule an appointment today. We also have an additional office in Owings for your convenience.
My name is Joe Carey, and I am the founder and principal attorney of the Carey Law Office. I have lived in Maryland my entire life. I grew up in a small town in Prince George’s County and, with the help of my partner in life, Nancy, I raised my family here: three exceptional children (a son and two daughters), and two goofy, spoiled black Labrador Retrievers. Learn More