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Is it illegal to possess someone else’s prescription medication?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2020 | Uncategorized

For many types of drug crimes, it is illegal to simply have the substance in your possession. Having the drug on your person or within your property creates the assumption that you were going to use that substance. However, when it comes to prescription drugs in California, the law differs a little for possession.

Prescription drugs on their own are not illegal. They are completely legal if you have a prescription for them from a medical professional. However, if you use someone else’s prescription medication, that is an illegal act. According to California Legislative Information, though, if you have someone else’s medication in your possession, it may not always be an illegal situation.

Two conditions

Two conditions allow you to have another person’s prescription medication in your possession without it becoming a crime. It mainly hinges on intent. If you, for example, keep your mother’s prescription medication for her and administer it to her, then that is legal. You meet the two conditions: you have the medication for dispensing it to the prescribed person, and you have permission from her to possess the drug.

It is essential that the prescription holder gives you permission or that you have permission under the law, such as you can legally hold medication for your minor child under the law. Also, you cannot use the medication yourself. You must provide it to the person whose name is on the prescription.

Having this exception to the law makes sense because many people on medications have caregivers or family that helps them with their medications in some way. For example, if you were to pick up your husband’s prescription from the pharmacy for him and law enforcement discovered you in possession of it, you could face drug charges if this exception did not exist.

The key to avoiding a criminal charge for prescription drugs is to never use a prescription medication that is not yours. You also should never have the medication of another person unless you have permission.