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Is sharing prescription drugs illegal?

If you are like many Massachusetts residents, you may have some leftover prescription pain relievers in your medicine cabinet from a previous injury or illness. When a friend gets an injury, you may decide to share your leftover medication to help manage the pain. Even though it may seem that you are simply helping out until your friend gets a prescription from his or her doctor, the consequences for such an action may be severe. Even if you do not ask for payment, giving drugs to someone without a prescription for them may count as distributing a controlled substance.

According to FindLaw, giving away or sharing prescription drugs may have similar legal consequences as selling illicit drugs. The key to obtaining a drug legally is the prescription, and a prescription does not generally cover anyone except for the patient. Additionally, most prescriptions only cover a certain time period relating to medical treatment for a specific condition. That means if you have leftover pain relievers from a prior injury, it may be illegal for you to take them for a new injury.

Pain relievers are not the only drugs that have strict legal restrictions; drug laws generally relate to any controlled substance, including some antihistamines, antidepressants and sedatives. State and federal laws prohibit you from distributing (and intending to distribute) controlled substances to anyone, regardless of whether you seek financial compensation. It is illegal to share your own medication with a friend or family member, even if he or she has a prescription for the same drug.

This general information on drug possession and distribution is intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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Anthony M. Salerno, P.C.
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