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It is a crime to give someone my prescription medication?

You may have committed a crime without realizing it. Maybe you knew it was illegal to sell prescription drugs to another person but felt it wasn't unlawful to give them away. This is against the law, whether or not money is part of the deal, and Clinton residents involved in so-called prescription "diversions" can face drug charges with serious consequences.

The practice is fairly common but often lacks a criminal motive -- someone is ill, so you offer him or her a form of relief. It's downright neighborly, but it is not like sharing an over-the-counter symptom reliever which anyone can purchase. This is a crime because you supply others with a controlled substance available only with a medical professional's permission.

People's intentions may be good at the time they share or sell a pill, but the practice can be dangerous. You aren't a doctor -- the way your body reacts to a prescription drug may not be the same as another person's response. The recipient may experience adverse side effects or suffer by taking multiple drugs that shouldn't be used simultaneously.

A 2010 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine examined the prevalence of prescription diversions among nearly 500 students, ages 17 to 19, at a mid-Atlantic college. Interviews revealed more than one-third of respondents had shared or sold someone else a prescription drug at least once. The drugs most commonly diverted were prescription painkillers or drugs for treatment of ADHD.

According to a 2011 article published on HealthCentral.com, researchers found one in five teens abused prescription medications. Teens, 12 and older, felt getting prescription drugs through diversion was safer than using illegal drugs. In fact, prescription drugs become illegal when distributed in an unauthorized way.

Maryland defendants facing diversion-related drug charges are advised to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Penalties for drug convictions can be severe and long-lasting.

Source: Health Central, "Crime: Other People's Pills," accessed Aug. 14, 2015

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