Sunday, May 1, 2011

Walgreens is the New Tommy Chong: Everyone with a Prescription is a Criminal

Let’s say your grandmother’s memory isn’t quite as sharp as it once was.  And she has some pills.  Let’s assume Grandma got those pills from a legitimate Doctor, and not a street pharmacist.  The only problem is that Grandma has a little trouble remembering to take her pills - and when she does, sometimes she can’t remember that she has actually taken them, and she might take the pills multiple times without realizing it.  The very realistic danger is that she may not actually take them, or may overdose on the pills she takes.  So she goes to the local pharmacist and picks up one of those “days of the week” pill containers.  You know the ones – they have seven little boxes, all connected, in a row.  Each one of the boxes has a little letter on them and they read, “S M T R F S.”  Right?  She takes the container home and puts her pills in it, so that she can remember to take them, and only the right amount of them.  Problem solved.

New problem.  Let’s talk about drug charges.  Because Grandma found a very rational way to solve a legitimate problem, using a product she found at a reputable store, Grandma just did something illegal.  Grandma is facing 90 days in County, bunking with the crazy chick from down the block who just stabbed her ex-boyfriend for looking at the waitress at Applebees.  The crime is called “Possession of a Controlled Substance, Not in Original Container.”  Grandma could really use the advice of a Louisville drug charge lawyer.

Sometimes, in this profession, I run across a law that just absolutely burns my toast.  Usually it involves some sort of vague or overbroad language that teeters on unconstitutionality.  For example, my rant of the week concerns KRS 218A.210.  It reads:

218A.210   Controlled substances may be possessed only in original container  -- Penalties.
(1) A person to whom or for whose use any controlled substance has been prescribed, sold, or dispensed, by a practitioner or other person authorized under this chapter, may lawfully possess it only in the container in which it was delivered to him by the person selling or dispensing the same.
(2) Violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class B misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for subsequent offenses.

You might be thinking, “Greg – seriously, what kind of police officer would actually charge my grandmother with this sort of crime?”

You would be surprised.  I have a current client (the client will remain nameless out of respect for confidentiality) who is charged with this offense.  The undisputed facts are: 1) the pills are non-narcotic; 2) my client had a prescription for the pills; and 3) my client had the pills in her purse.

In fact, my client originally had the pills in a prescription container – they just spilled out into her purse.  She cleaned up what she thought was all of the pills, and put them back into the container.  However, a couple of those little slippery bastards remained in the bottom of her purse.  The client didn’t realize this until the officer was rooting through her purse, and found them at the bottom.  The officer arrested her and charged her with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Not in Original Container.

The law is overbroad because it says you may possess a prescription “only in the container in which it was delivered to him[.]”  In the most strict reading of this law, a person who gets a prescription filled can never take the pills out of the container.  Possessing the pill in his/her hand would be possession in a manner that is not “in the container in which it was delivered to him.”  Therefore, by taking prescribed medication, everyone who has ever followed those doctor’s orders, has violated the law.  Absurd, right?

On a related note, I’m about to really annoy a prosecutor when I make my motion to declare this statute Unconstitutional.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I love this great Commonwealth, but sometimes the Kentucky drug laws can be overbroad.  For that reason, and for many others, drug charges should be handled by experienced drug charge lawyers.  If you have a drug charge in Louisville, Lexington, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, or the surrounding areas, you should speak with an experienced Louisville drug charge lawyer.  Call Gruner & Simms, PLLC at 502.618.4949.  You will not be charged for an initial consultation.   

Results.  As fast as the law will allow.

Questions answered in this blog post:  Is it illegal to put pills in other containers; explain KRS 218A.210; when can I take prescription pills out of the original container; how do I find a good Louisville drug charge lawyer; how can I find a good Louisville lawyer for prescription pills not in original container; what does it mean for a law to be unconstitutional; what is vagueness and overbreadth; are days of the week pill boxes illegal?

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