When most people think about drugs – especially in conjunction with criminal law – they picture illicit substances such as cocaine and heroin. Under state law, however, prescription drugs can also be involved in drug crimes. Some of the most common illegal drugs are available at the pharmacy. It is against the law to obtain, possess or distribute prescription drugs without a valid prescription or medical license in Arizona.
Arizona Laws for Illegal Distribution of Prescription Drugs
Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-3406 is Arizona’s law on prescription drugs. It states that no person shall knowingly possess or use a prescription-only drug unless that person has a valid prescription from a licensed professional. The only parties lawfully allowed to possess prescription drugs for sale or distribution are those with valid and active licenses pursuant to Title 32. These parties include:
- Doctors of medicine
- Physician assistants
- Naturopathic physicians
- Homeopathic physicians
- Dispensing opticians
It is against the law for anyone else to distribute prescription drugs or medications in Arizona. It is also against the law for the listed parties to administer prescription drugs to someone whose possession or use of the drug will violate the law. Finally, it is against the law to obtain a prescription drug through fraud, misrepresentation, deceit or subterfuge.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
Arizona’s laws on the possession and distribution of prescription drugs were created to prevent the overuse, misuse and abuse of these dangerous medications. Although prescription drugs are not the same as illicit substances by law, they are similarly abused. This makes it important for states to regulate the sale, possession and distribution of prescription medications.
The three types of prescription drugs most frequently abused are:
- Opioids and pain relievers. Drugs that block and control pain. Examples are OxyContin, Vicodin, Dilaudid and Percocet.
- Drugs that reduce stimulation and anxiety by working on the central nervous system. Examples are Valium, Xanax, Librium and Klonopin.
- Drugs that speed up the body’s systems to make a person feel more alert. Examples are Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta.
Many of these drugs are addictive. In many cases, someone charged with the illegal possession of a prescription-only drug began with a valid prescription for the medication. Taking the medication – even as prescribed – may lead to drug dependency and withdrawal. The patient may then turn to the illegal purchase of prescription drugs after his or her prescription runs out.
Penalties for Illegal Distribution of Prescription Drugs
If found distributing any prescription-only drug outside of the confines of state law, a person could face a felony charge in Arizona. Crimes that involve the sale or distribution of illegal drugs are penalized more heavily than simple possession, for the most part. Knowingly manufacturing, selling or distributing a misbranded prescription-only drug is a class 4 felony. Possessing or transporting prescription drugs for sale is a class 6 felony.
The potential penalties for illegally distributing prescription drugs in Arizona include a fine of $1,000 or more, probation, community service, mandatory rehabilitation for alcohol or drug abuse, and jail time. A conviction for this type of crime could severely impact your life, leading to consequences such as the loss of your job and freedom. Contact a Glendale criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after being charged with illegal distribution of prescription drugs in Arizona.
Is the Illegal Distribution of Marijuana Considered as Distribution of a Prescription Drug?
Although marijuana is lawfully available for medicinal use in Arizona, crimes involving its illegal distribution do not fall under the same law as prescription drugs. Illegal distribution of marijuana is punished according to Arizona Revised Statute 13-3405. This law says it is illegal to knowingly possess marijuana for sale. This crime is punished as a class 6 to class 2 felony depending on the amount of marijuana involved. Punishments can include 1.5 to 10 years in jail and/or up to $150,000 in fines.
If you are facing criminal charges for the alleged illegal distribution of any prescription drug in Arizona, contact a defense attorney right away.