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Abusing prescription drugs is as illegal as using banned drugs

People generally understand that the state can prosecute an individual for possessing, transferring or abusing a prohibited drug. The federal government and the state of South Dakota have made numerous substances illegal in all circumstances. Someone who gets caught with cocaine or methamphetamine likely understands that they may face criminal charges and could end up in prison in some cases.

Some people wrongly assume that using a prescription medication without a doctor’s recommendation is a safer option than abusing prohibited drugs. While that may seem logical, the reality is that anyone accused of abusing prescription drugs could face the same charges as those who abuse outright prohibited substances.

Controlled substances are only conditionally legal

The medications that doctors prescribe are controlled substances. They are only lawful for someone to possess and use if their conduct aligns with state statutes. Typically, that means they must have a valid recommendation from a licensed physician and receive the medication from a licensed provider.

Those taking prescribed medication have to comply with medical instructions when taking the medication and do not have the right to transfer their drugs to anyone else if they do not use all of the medicine prescribed to them. Police officers can arrest people who possess prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Particularly when a medication has a strong association with substance abuse, police officers may scrutinize someone’s paperwork and question their right to possess that substance.

Having a prescription vial truly labeled for someone else could be enough to raise questions about someone’s possession of the drug. Accusations of improperly transferring the medication to someone else could also theoretically lead to a scenario in which the state prosecutes someone for a prescription drug crime. Those who transfer their medication to others, even if they do not seek financial benefit from that transfer, could face criminal charges.

Anyone accused of violating the law with prescription medication could face penalties including incarceration and fines. The type of medication, the amount of medication and someone’s criminal history may all influence the exact charges and penalties possible after their arrest for a prescription drug offense.

Responding appropriately to drug charges related to prescription medication can help someone limit the consequences they’re facing. Even better, those who recognize the risks of possessing or misusing prescription medication can avoid mistakes that might lead to an arrest.