When is it illegal to have medication not prescribed to you?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Controlled substances rules limit who can possess, sell and consume numerous substances in Michigan. Pain relievers, muscle relaxants, psychiatric medication and many other valuable prescription medications are only available when recommended by a doctor and dispensed by a pharmacist.

However, when you have a prescription, you can possess and consume medication that you otherwise could not. While many people treat their medications like any other possession and may share them with other people or ask someone to pick them up or drop them off, some people get arrested for being in possession of another person’s prescription medication.

When does handling or possessing someone else’s medicine become a crime?

Anytime after they open the packaging

There is technically only one means by which you can help someone you know with their prescription medication outside of their home. If they can’t make it to the pharmacy before work ends or we need you to pick up a medication from home and bring it to them elsewhere, you can potentially possess and transport their medication with their permission.

However, it needs to remain sealed in the original packaging from the pharmacy. Once the patient has opened the medication and made it accessible to others, your possession and transportation of that medication become illegal in most cases. Those with minor children, guardianship or healthcare power of attorney authority can possess, store and transport medication, including open medication, on behalf of the patient.

In most scenarios, transporting or possessing medication prescribed to someone else will result in a controlled substances drug charge.

Making the truth clear could help your defense strategy

Do you have a text message chain that illustrates how your sister asked you to pick up her medication at home and bring it to her at work? Have you been the one picking up the medication for your spouse or your college-aged child at the pharmacy for months?

While it is best to avoid violating the law in the first place, even with good intentions, you can sometimes demonstrate that the circumstances make it clear there was no intent to commit a crime. Instead of being a mirror slap on the wrist, prescription drug offenses could lead to a lifelong criminal record and potentially jail time, as well as professional consequences for those pursuing certain careers.

Fighting back against prescription drug charges requires an understanding of state law and the evidence against you.


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