Pill Organizers Come with Legal Risk

Most of us that are chronically ill are prescribed medications. The more of these medications you have, the more difficult it can be to manage them in a way that ensures you are taking them as they’ve been prescribed. Pill organizers are a common household item for us Spoonies and Zebras. I own a few of them myself and find them to be highly valuable. But there are times that these shouldn’t be used and could actually put us at risk for legal problems.

Prescribed drugs are legal when taken by a person who is prescribed the medication by their doctor. The key to making the drugs legal is the prescription written out to a specific person only. If someone other than the person named on the prescription buys or uses the drugs, it is considered illegal and a crime. In short, consumption or possession of any prescribed drugs not prescribed to you is illegal. The amount of trouble a person can get into by sharing or giving away their prescription drugs will depend on a variety of factors. Some of the determining factors include who is prosecuting you, the type of drug you are sharing and how much you are giving away.

Some states have laws that require the medication be carried in the original prescription bottle with a current label that identifies the person for whom the medication is intended. In other states, proof of prescription is generally considered sufficient. It is not considered illegal to carry medication as long as the person carrying the medication is the person, parent, guardian or caretaker for whom the medication has been properly prescribed. This means that it is illegal for a spouse, partner or girl/boyfriend to carry your medication unless they are an established caretaker for you.

So, what does that have to do with you using a pill organizer? Once your medications are removed from their pill bottles and put into the organizer they are no longer connected to the proof that you have a legal script for the medication. This means that while you are carrying these medications around in that organizer, you cannot prove that you have the legal right to possess them. Most of the time this doesn’t matter since no one is going to be checking your back pack for pills. However, if you get into a car accident, try to get on a plane or for any other reason get into a situation where the police are present, you put yourself at legal risk.

What does this mean for those of us who depend on our medications but also want or need to leave our homes when our medications are due? There are things that you can do to help keep yourself organized and also keep yourself legally protected.

  1. It is a good idea to know what the law is in your state.
  2. For everyday purposes, only carry your medication outside the home if absolutely necessary.
  3. Only carry the medications that you will need while you are out.
  4. If you need to carry your medication with you, it’s best to carry it in its original prescription bottle that clearly identifies your name and date of prescription.
  5. When filling your prescription, you can also ask your pharmacist for an extra labeled bottle to carry smaller quantities of your medication out of the house. This is a really good idea if your medication is a controlled substance.
  6. Keeping your medications in their original prescription bottles is a good idea when travelling. While it isn’t a legal requirement for getting onto a plane that they be in their original containers it can really slow your process down if they aren’t. Also, know that you have to claim them at security. When crossing state lines, it is better to have your medications in their original containers than to face unfamiliar laws with your pills in an organizer.
  7. Consider carrying a copy of your most recent prescription from your physician, especially when you’re traveling. This not only includes getting on a plane but also if you are going to cross state lines.
  8. You can get your medications packaged by the pharmacy (depending on the pharmacy) by the day and time that you need to take them.

The bottom line is that there are absolutely times and circumstances in which it is actually illegal for you to be carrying your own prescription medications. Thus, it is important for us to know and understand the laws of the state that we are living in as it can greatly effect the way that we carry our medications.

Other things to read on this topic:

Pill Pack

Illegal Possession of Your Own Prescription Drugs

Is Your Seven Day Pill Box Illegal?

Can Police Arrest You For Carrying Prescription Meds Outside Of The Original Container?

Legal to carry Rx drugs in non-prescription bottle but beware


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