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Is Prescription Drug Abuse Illegal in California?


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Medications are more popular than ever and are used to treat all types of illnesses and conditions. In 2020, more than 6.3 billion prescriptions were dispensed in the United States. It is estimated that more than 131 million Americans use prescription drugs. Prescription medications can be helpful, but they can also prove to be dangerous. Many types of prescription drugs are addictive and people can abuse them. Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is all too common. 


What is Prescription Drug Abuse?


The Mayo Clinic defines prescription drug abuse as “the use of a prescription drug in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor.” Some medications are addictive and when someone uses them for a period of time, they may need to continue using them. Prescription drug abuse can occur when someone takes medications when they are no longer medically required or when they are addicted to the substance. Just like illegal drugs, a person can become addicted and may require more and more of the drug to provide them with relief. Taking some prescription drugs, or too many of them, can cause impairment. 


Prescription Drug Charges


It is illegal to possess, sell, or transport prescription drugs that are not legally prescribed to you. You are only legally allowed to have prescription medications that belong to you and you must take them in accordance with the doctor’s directions. Some of the most common criminal charges associated with prescription drugs include:


  • Possession of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Controlled Substance for Sale
  • Transportation of Controlled Substance
  • Sale of Controlled Substance
  • Use of Controlled Substance
  • Prescription Drug Fraud


Prescription drugs are controlled substances. If you do not use them in the manner in which they were intended, you can face drug charges. You cannot sell your prescription medication nor can you purchase or be in possession of medications that were prescribed to others. It is illegal to “doctor shop,” going to different doctors to obtain additional prescription medication. 


Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs


When people hear the charge of DUI, driving under the influence, they usually think of alcohol abuse. However, DUI also pertains to illegal and prescription drugs. When someone is impaired due to drug abuse and gets behind the wheel, they could be charged with DUI. DUI charges are extremely serious and could result in a suspension of your driving privileges, along with fines and even jail time if convicted. The judge may also order you to attend a drug program. 


Federal Drug Charges


It is legal for a person to possess prescription medications that are prescribed for them and are for their personal use. However, if you possess prescription drugs that you intend to sell, you are in violation of federal law. Federal law provides schedules for controlled substances based on the accepted medical use, risk of addiction, and other factors. The sentence for federal drug charge convictions may include significant jail time along with other penalties. Generally, federal charges are made when there is a significant amount of illegal drugs or when the offense may be considered drug trafficking. 


Prescription drug charges are something you must take seriously. Our legal team is here to answer your questions and defend the charges. Contact us at Strongest Defense at (805) 477-0070 to discuss your case today.