Although you technically own your prescription medication after you pick it up from the pharmacy, you do not have the right to do whatever you want with it. The law limits your rights to essentially following the exact instructions provided by your physician.

Many people fail to understand the legal restrictions created by controlled substance laws. Much of what an individual might assume they can do with their prescription medication could actually lead to criminal charges.

Technically, your possession and use of that medication are legal when in compliance with the instructions provided by the licensed healthcare professional who recommended the prescribed medicine. What deviations from those rules could lead to criminal charges?

Driving after taking medication

If there is a warning label on the prescription vial about driving or operating heavy machinery, and you could easily face impaired driving charges if you ignore that warning. While the medication itself is legal and your consumption of it may have aligned with a doctor’s recommendations, getting behind the wheel while potentially impaired by a prescription medication is a crime.

Transferring the medication to others

Maybe your symptoms improved more quickly than your doctor anticipated and you didn’t need all of your pain relievers or muscle relaxants. Perhaps you started using an herbal supplement instead of your prescription sleep aid.

If a family member, neighbor or coworker has a similar medical issue to yours, you may feel like sharing your medication with them would be a kind act. However, it would also be a criminal one. Even if you do not accept payment for the transfer of the medication, the act of giving it to another person is a crime.

There are other actions that could also make your possession or use of a prescription drug a crime. You could also face criminal charges for sourcing your medication from someplace other than a licensed pharmacy or for openly and obviously abusing the medication prescribed to you. If you get caught in the act of misusing or transferring the medication you own, the police might arrest you.

Learning more about how you can unintentionally violate drug laws with prescribed medication can help you better protect yourself.