In your second year of college, you have your wisdom teeth removed. The doctor prescribes you some serious painkillers to take at home while you recover. Thankfully, you are young and healthy. You recover ahead of schedule, and the pain subsides long before you use up all of the medication.
You know you could take it until it is gone anyway, but you have read about people getting addicted to painkillers. You don’t want to take any chances, so you just set the pill bottle aside in the back of your medicine cabinet and forget about it.
Two months later, one of your roommates has a different type of medical procedure done, and he or she complains about the pain. The doctor did not think painkillers were needed and just told your roommate to use over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen.
However, after two days of watching your roommate lie on the couch in pain, you remember that little bottle of painkillers. You offer them to your roommate. You just want to help, after all. Your roommate takes them, feels better, and gives you $20 to say thanks when the ordeal is over.
Was it legal?
Even though you did not intend to become a drug dealer, you technically broke the law, even if you did it accidentally. If you needed a prescription for those painkillers, then everyone needs a prescription for them. Your roommate was not allowed to use the drugs that had been prescribed to you.
Moreover, you are not allowed to sell them. Only doctors can write prescriptions. Only pharmacists can dispense them — and you are neither. While you obtained your medication legally, as soon as you opted to sell or give it away, you broke the law.
Who is in trouble?
You may wonder who would get in worse trouble, you or your roommate. The reality is that you both could. If you get caught selling, you could face charges for the illegal distribution of a controlled substance.
Your roommate could also face legal issues, especially if he gets caught driving while under the influence of those drugs. Some painkillers have drastic impacts that can make you feel far worse than if you drove drunk. They come with explicit directions telling you how to use them safely. During this illegal sale, did anyone tell your roommate about safe and responsible use?
As you can see, good intentions can backfire. If you end up facing legal charges for breaking drug laws you did not understand, make sure you know your legal rights going forward. If you are a parent whose college student has gone through this process, be sure you know all of the options you have to help them navigate the criminal defense process.