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When does Minnesota prosecute people for prescription medication offenses?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Prescription medication can help people treat a variety of health challenges from diabetes to infections. Many prescribed medications could potentially be dangerous if taken in conjunction with other drugs or in excessive amounts. Therefore, the law in Minnesota requires a prescription from a recommending physician to legally possess and use most medications. Once a physician recommends a specific medication, a patient can legally obtain that drug from a pharmacy and then take the drug as instructed by the doctor.

People often take for granted that they can do whatever they want with a prescribed medication after it is in their possession. However, state prosecutors do file charges against people for medication available only via prescription. How can people with prescriptions run afoul of state law?

Obtaining medication the wrong way

Some people want medication their primary care physician refuses to prescribe them. They may make appointments with other doctors or go to the emergency room seeking medication. People accused of doctor shopping to obtain medication could face charges and difficulty getting proper care. There are also unregulated markets for many popular medications, and people sometimes buy medications from coworkers or neighbors instead of picking them up at the pharmacy. Any attempt to obtain medication from an unlicensed source could lead to prosecution.

Giving away or selling medication

Sometimes, people face charges not because of how they obtain their medication but for what they do with it when they no longer require it. Some people sell or give away their leftover medication. The unlicensed transfer of a prescribed medication is unlawful even if someone does not receive financial benefit from the transfer. Especially if the medication has a known association with drug abuse, someone could be at risk of criminal prosecution.

Driving while under the influence

If police officers stop someone due to poor driving, they could end up facing charges even though they legally have a prescription for that medication. Drugs that affect driving ability can lead to charges even if someone has a legal right to use that medication for a valid medical issue. There is no legal limit for mind-altering drugs, meaning any amount could be enough to warrant impaired driving charges.

Recognizing that simple mistakes could lead to prosecution for drug charges may benefit those prescribed certain medications. Patients who learn more about state laws may be in a better place to respond effectively if accused of misconduct.