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When is it illegal to possess prescription medications?

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2020 | Drug Charges |

Individuals often assume that, if a doctor prescribes a drug, it must be legal. However, many prescribed medications have a high risk of dependency and abuse, including narcotics like opioids and stimulants like amphetamines. The law classifies these medications as controlled substances, or “legend drugs”. 

A physician may prescribe these medications to treat conditions ranging from chronic pain or PTSD to attention-deficit disorder, but possessing even small amounts of a legend drug without a legal prescription may lead to steep legal penalties. 

1. Invalid prescriptions

An individual using a legend drug must have a valid, personal prescription from a licensed healthcare practitioner. Without a legal prescription, even possessing a small amount of a legend drug for personal use may result in up to 5 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $10,000. 

2. Fraudulent attempts to procure a prescription

Even when a medical need exists, it is illegal for an individual to attempt to receive a prescription for a controlled substance using fraudulent means. Misrepresenting a condition, using a false name or visiting multiple physicians to receive the same prescription may lead to criminal charges. 

3. Possession of significant quantities of a legend drug

Possession of large quantities of a controlled substance may give a prosecutor reason to suspect that the individual has an intent to distribute or sell the drug. 

Under Minnesota law, a person who demonstrates intent to sell, barter or even simply give away controlled medications may face a felony conviction, years of imprisonment and fines of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the amount and type of drug. 


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