Prescription Drugs and Offenses
Prescription drugs consist of controlled substances. Also, possession or use of a prescription drug is illegal. This happens unless the individual holds a legitimate prescription from a licensed medical practitioner. Likewise, it is illegal to sell, or possess with the intent to sell, a prescription drug without a medical license.
There are several offenses dealing with prescription drugs. These offenses include: illegal sale or possession of prescription drugs, obtaining or supplying of drugs through fraud or forged labels, the requirement of prescriptions properly labeled, and that prescribed narcotics stay in the original containers.
The application of and penalties imposed by these sections will differ. This depends on whether the accused is an individual or licensed medical practitioner. Medical practitioners found in violation of these sections may have professional sanctions. Also, they could a professional license suspension or revocation. This happens in addition to the terms of imprisonment and fines imposed on non practitioners.
The penalties imposed for possession, sale, or possession with intent to sell depend certain elements. It depends on how the particular prescription drug at issue gets classified. For example, many prescription pain relievers (ie. Codeine, OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin) are classified as narcotics. Also, the penalties have basis on possession or sale of narcotics. The commonly prescribed drugs Ritalin, Cylert, and Adderall get classified as amphetamines and will get penalized as such. Other common drugs like antibiotics and antidepressants, which do not fit the classifications of common “street drugs” will get classified and penalized as “other controlled substances.”
The rise of steroid use amongst professional and amateur athletes has raised concern amongst the public and government alike. Steroids constitute prescription drugs currently classified and penalized as “other controlled substances.”
Anabolic steroids constitute Class III controlled substances and require a prescription for medical use. The Controlled Substance Act defines anabolic steroids as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogen, progestins, and corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth.
Illegal Sale/Possession of Prescription Drugs
It is illegal to possess a prescription drug, unless you hold a legitimate prescription from a licensed medical practitioner. Additionally, it is a crime to sell or possess with the intent to sell a prescription drug without the proper authority to do so. In order to get convicted of this offense, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual sold or possessed a prescription drug that can only get legally obtained with a legitimate prescription, and the individual’s sale or possession of this drug was not authorized by law (i.e. that the individual was not licensed to sell the drug, or did not have a legitimate prescription for it).
“Sale” gets defined as any form of delivery, including barter, exchange, gift, or offer. “Possession” means either actual possession or constructive possession. Actual possession means actual physical possession of an object, such as having the object on one’s person. Constructive possession means having the object in a place under one’s dominion and control.
In order to prove possession, the state must establish that the defendant knew that they were in possession of the prescription drug. To do that they must show that they were aware that they were in possession of it and were aware of its nature.
Then, the second element is that the drug must get dispensed pursuant only to a prescription, or is restricted to use by prescribing practitioners only. “Prescription” means a written or oral order for any controlled substance or preparation from a licensed practitioner to a pharmacist for a patient.
Finally, the third element is that such conduct of the defendant was not legally authorized.
Penalties for the Illegal Sale or Possession of Prescription Drugs (Possessing, Selling, or Using Someone Else’s Prescription)
Penalties for illegal sale of prescription or controlled drugs will depend on the type of prescription drug at issue and its classification under Connecticut law. Typical prescription drugs go under classifications of “Amphetamine-type substances,” “Narcotic substance,” or “other controlled substances” and penalized as such. Please refer to our pages on possession, narcotics, and amphetamine-type substances to view the acts that constitute this crime, as well as the penalties.
Because under state and federal law it is an offense for a person to possess or have under their control any narcotic drug except as authorized by some applicable exception, a person possessing a narcotic prescribed by a physician must comply with the exception provision of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-257.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-257
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-257 relates to the authorized possession of narcotic drugs by individuals. This section provides that a person to whom or for whose use any narcotic drug has been prescribed by a physician may ‘lawfully possess it only in the container in which it was delivered to them’ by the person selling or dispensing it. This section imposes a burden on the defendant charged with illegal possession of a narcotic substance to prove that they possessed the drug in the container in which a pharmacist delivered it to them. In the absence of proof that the drug in the defendant’s possession was in the container in which it was delivered to them, possession is unlawful.
Defendants unable to prove that they possessed the prescribed narcotic lawfully and in its original container get subject to the penalty for illegal possession of a narcotic substance provided in Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-279(a). View these penalties here.
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-258
There are, however, exceptions to the requirement that narcotics be in their original container. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-258 provides an exception in which certain individuals under special circumstances do not have to carry narcotics in their original containers. Those individuals and the relevant circumstances are: (1) common carriers, warehousemen, any employee of the same acting within the scope of their employment; (2) public officers or employees in the performance of their official duties that require possession of controlled substances; (3) temporary incidental possession by employees or agents of a person lawfully entitled to have the narcotics; and (4) people “whose possession is for the purpose of aiding public officers in performing their official duties.”