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Sharing Prescription Drugs

Is it illegal to share prescription medication?
– Nelson from Marrero

This is a fairly common question and the answer is yes, it is illegal to share any prescription medication.

The laws in Louisiana relative to prescription drugs used to mainly apply to pain medications and other controlled dangerous substances (CDS). Most people were aware that it was and is against the law to possess prescription pain medication unless you have a valid prescription. However, in 2006, our legislature passed a law that made it illegal to possess any prescribed medication without a valid prescription. The law refers to these (non-CDS) drugs as “Legend” drugs.

Previously, if your mother wanted to give you some of her prescription antibiotics, then that would not have been illegal. Same applies to Viagra, although I doubt that your mother would be giving you that type of medication. That loophole in the law was closed by Act 565 of the Regular Session. The Act was under the umbrella of “public health and safety”.

Under the current Louisiana law the penalty for possessing a prescribed medication (that is not a CDS) is up to five years with or without hard labor and a fine of up to $5,000. Most people have no idea that sharing even seemingly harmless prescription pills is illegal for both parties. Back to our previous example with your mother who gave you her antibiotics. In this scenario you could be arrested for possession of the pills and your mother could also be arrested for giving (not selling) them to you. Free advice, Mom, take the fifth.

This same law was also amended a year later to include a section to deal with “Doctor Shopping” for pain medication. People were going to multiple doctors and getting overlapping prescriptions for pain pills. The current law requires a person to disclose any and all CDS prescriptions to every doctor. The penalty is the same (up to 5 years and $5,000 fine).

Addiction to pain medication is very swift and severe. It usually leads to an arrest for either buying pills off the street or forging prescriptions or seeing multiple doctors to get the pills. I have represented lawyers, detectives and doctors who were all arrested for pills. They should not be used recreationally and parents should get rid of those old prescriptions in their medicine cabinets.

Finally, if you travel with a valid prescription for any medication it would be wise to keep the pills in the bottle with the label and do not share them.