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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:39 pm 
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To legally carry my many prescription meds, (gained lawfully from doctors) in my bob, in my vehicle or on foot, can I cut the label from the bottle and put the medication in ziplock bags? Or do I have to carry them in the actual bottles? Which would be a big pain - they take up a lot of room in a relatively small bag.

Also are the amounts of prescription drugs of any legal importance? I've saved up a few months of certain meds that I want to have on hand. That I desperately need. Will that get me in trouble? Is there a cut off amount?

Please only legal answers. Not conjecture. Maybe you LEO's can chime in? Or attys?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 6:56 pm 
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There seems to be an absolute dearth of clear & concise information from any kind of reliable source for this outside of the state codes themselves, and IANAL so digging into the case-law is not something I can casually or conveniently do.

It does not appear to be a federal law, based among other things on this statement from the TSA : "TSA does not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, but states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply." http://blog.tsa.gov/2014/09/tsa-travel-tips-traveling-with.html

Some of this appears to depend on your state. Connecticut apparently requires that narcotic medications can only be legally possessed in their original containers. (http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap420b.htm#Sec21a-257.htm) Illinois is the same regarding narcotics. (720 ILCS 570/312)(g). http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072005700K312

I then found a lawyer in Maine who claimed that Maine required this for all prescriptions. http://edfolsomlaw.com/2013/01/illegal-possession-of-your-own-prescription-drugs/ However, Maine's law does indeed allow for "reasonable repackaging for more convenient legitimate medical use." http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/22/title22sec2383-b.html Apparently, according to the lawyer, a pants pocket isn't repackaging and people had been charged (albeit apparently by 1 DA) for that.

I found a guy on the web who claimed he'd had his pills confiscated and almost been charged for such a thing in Michigan. (http://community.lawyers.com/forums/t/104451.aspx?PageIndex=2, halfway down the page.) While it some guy on the internet, I don't actually doubt this happened and he was told this, however, statement by this Michigan lawyer http://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/2009/11/possession-of-analogues-in-mic.html seems to indicate that's not how it would usually play out in court (hence, possibly, the reason this guy wasn't charged.)
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I have handled cases where the pills were in an unlabeled bottle, but the person was thereafter able to produce a valid prescription covering the time period within which the pills were found, and have thus been able to get the charges dismissed.

It is NOT illegal in South Carolina - and while I didn't google the statute the UNC law school blog seems like a reasonably credible source.
http://nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu/common-questions-about-prescription-drugs/ Altho, if you are on probation, keeping any legally prescribed-to-you controlled substances in their original containers may apparently be a condition of probation. (So moab should try to avoid being on probation if he's in SC. :wink: :lol: )

I actually found case law in Wisconsin where an appeals court held that "We conclude the inference, that an individual lacks a prescription solely because a small number of his or her pills are not kept in a labeled bottle, is entirely unreasonable. " http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.html?content=html&seqNo=70353 This case regarded a non-narcotic prescription. Regs regarding narcotics may be different, I didn't see them.

Unfortunately, a LOT of people including doctors and pharmacists seem to have been misinformed on the topic, I don't doubt some police may have been miseducated about it as well.

And that's before we get to the fact that unlabelled pills would probably be successfully argued as probably cause if an officer did decide they wanted to arrest you, even if the charges were later dropped or defeated in court. I think that's the rationale behind the advice. Possessing paper copies of the label from the pharmacy or the prescription might be helpful at that time. Quote is from a (denied) appeal that a search warrant was illegal :
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And as Ramsey (officer) explained in his deposition, storing controlled substances in an unlabeled pill box was not illegal, but it led Ramsey to suspect that Dr. Roddy illegally possessed those drugs without a prescription. And when Ramsey sought the search warrant, Dr. Roddy stated only that the drugs were for his family, not that he had a prescription. To be sure, Dr. Roddy told other officers that he had a prescription, but not Ramsey. And Ramsey need not leave no stone unturned.
(To be fair, the reason they searched this guy was that he'd been accused of pulling a gun on somebody who'd cautioned/yelled at his kids the night before, and he'd had a few thousand dollars of crumpled bills on him, among other things, the totality of the circumstances were not just that he had unlabelled pills.) http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/files/201312826.pdf

tl;dr - This is apparently state by state, and narcotics/scheduled meds may be dealt with differently (and "controlled" may be defined differently) in various states. Amounts that may give probable cause for suspicion of drug trafficking also appear to vary by controlled substance and by state. Also, there is a ton of misinformation out there.

So it depends where you are and what the drugs are. Good luck figuring it out!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:38 pm 
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duodecima wrote:
There seems to be an absolute dearth of clear & concise information from any kind of reliable source for this outside of the state codes themselves, and IANAL so digging into the case-law is not something I can casually or conveniently do.

It does not appear to be a federal law, based among other things on this statement from the TSA : "TSA does not require passengers to have medications in prescription bottles, but states have individual laws regarding the labeling of prescription medication with which passengers need to comply." http://blog.tsa.gov/2014/09/tsa-travel-tips-traveling-with.html

Some of this appears to depend on your state. Connecticut apparently requires that narcotic medications can only be legally possessed in their original containers. (http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap420b.htm#Sec21a-257.htm) Illinois is the same regarding narcotics. (720 ILCS 570/312)(g). http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072005700K312

I then found a lawyer in Maine who claimed that Maine required this for all prescriptions. http://edfolsomlaw.com/2013/01/illegal-possession-of-your-own-prescription-drugs/ However, Maine's law does indeed allow for "reasonable repackaging for more convenient legitimate medical use." http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/22/title22sec2383-b.html Apparently, according to the lawyer, a pants pocket isn't repackaging and people had been charged (albeit apparently by 1 DA) for that.

I found a guy on the web who claimed he'd had his pills confiscated and almost been charged for such a thing in Michigan. (http://community.lawyers.com/forums/t/104451.aspx?PageIndex=2, halfway down the page.) While it some guy on the internet, I don't actually doubt this happened and he was told this, however, statement by this Michigan lawyer http://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/2009/11/possession-of-analogues-in-mic.html seems to indicate that's not how it would usually play out in court (hence, possibly, the reason this guy wasn't charged.)
Quote:
I have handled cases where the pills were in an unlabeled bottle, but the person was thereafter able to produce a valid prescription covering the time period within which the pills were found, and have thus been able to get the charges dismissed.

It is NOT illegal in South Carolina - and while I didn't google the statute the UNC law school blog seems like a reasonably credible source.
http://nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu/common-questions-about-prescription-drugs/ Altho, if you are on probation, keeping any legally prescribed-to-you controlled substances in their original containers may apparently be a condition of probation. (So moab should try to avoid being on probation if he's in SC. :wink: :lol: )

I actually found case law in Wisconsin where an appeals court held that "We conclude the inference, that an individual lacks a prescription solely because a small number of his or her pills are not kept in a labeled bottle, is entirely unreasonable. " http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.html?content=html&seqNo=70353 This case regarded a non-narcotic prescription. Regs regarding narcotics may be different, I didn't see them.

Unfortunately, a LOT of people including doctors and pharmacists seem to have been misinformed on the topic, I don't doubt some police may have been miseducated about it as well.

And that's before we get to the fact that unlabelled pills would probably be successfully argued as probably cause if an officer did decide they wanted to arrest you, even if the charges were later dropped or defeated in court. I think that's the rationale behind the advice. Possessing paper copies of the label from the pharmacy or the prescription might be helpful at that time. Quote is from a (denied) appeal that a search warrant was illegal :
Quote:
And as Ramsey (officer) explained in his deposition, storing controlled substances in an unlabeled pill box was not illegal, but it led Ramsey to suspect that Dr. Roddy illegally possessed those drugs without a prescription. And when Ramsey sought the search warrant, Dr. Roddy stated only that the drugs were for his family, not that he had a prescription. To be sure, Dr. Roddy told other officers that he had a prescription, but not Ramsey. And Ramsey need not leave no stone unturned.
(To be fair, the reason they searched this guy was that he'd been accused of pulling a gun on somebody who'd cautioned/yelled at his kids the night before, and he'd had a few thousand dollars of crumpled bills on him, among other things, the totality of the circumstances were not just that he had unlabelled pills.) http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/files/201312826.pdf

tl;dr - This is apparently state by state, and narcotics/scheduled meds may be dealt with differently (and "controlled" may be defined differently) in various states. Amounts that may give probable cause for suspicion of drug trafficking also appear to vary by controlled substance and by state. Also, there is a ton of misinformation out there.

So it depends where you are and what the drugs are. Good luck figuring it out!


Wow, Duo!!!! That was amazing! Thank so very much for taking the time to research all of that. Where would I look for the same info for California, Oregon, Washington? Not that it's necessary. Looks like enough misinformation out there to get your pills taken by LE without the original bottles. That sucks.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:41 pm 
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I keep my super duper, high-speed painkillers in the prescription bottle with the label when I take them camping, hiking or on the road. It's a bit of a pain to pack, but so is a night in the county jail.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:50 pm 
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Boondock wrote:
I keep my super duper, high-speed painkillers in the prescription bottle with the label when I take them camping, hiking or on the road. It's a bit of a pain to pack, but so is a night in the county jail.


I hear you. I have two types of controlled medications in my meds. And I'll for sure be keeping them in the bottles. I wonder about quantities though? I have more than a few months saved up for prepping purposes. I'd guess you'd get a lot of sh*t for that too. Even in the prescription bottles. There must be a limit to what you can walk around with. Without being charged as a dealer or something.

I guess the strategy would be to keep them at home in your bug in location. And wait till things get so bad that no one cares what you're carrying when you leave. Other than that just leave them home I guess. Which sucks. Because I have a lot of other just general health meds (high blood pressure etc.) that would like to have extras of with me. Considering finding a pharmacy and insurance and everything else would be hard.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:35 am 
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Just ask the pharmacist for extra labels. That solves everything.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:39 am 
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moab wrote:

Wow, Duo!!!! That was amazing! Thank so very much for taking the time to research all of that. Where would I look for the same info for California, Oregon, Washington? Not that it's necessary. Looks like enough misinformation out there to get your pills taken by LE without the original bottles. That sucks.

Lots and lots and lots of googling. Used terms like "how to legally possess prescription medication [insert state name here]" and "prescription medication unlabelled container [state name here]" and many other variants. Then poke around to the 3rd or 4th page of google links. You'll get lots of stuff on forums, which only in one occasion had a useful citation. People will say "it's a federal thing!" with a link - but they're linking the entire damn DEA code index page! Which does not count as a specific citation if I need over 7 days to read the damn thing.

For amounts I would google "possession with intent to distribute [drug] [state]" and go from there. Especially with controlled substances I would be super duper careful about that. The statute did find (not your states) involved amounts of one particular controlled substance where for some of my more extreme patients, IF I had ever given them a 90 day supply (which I did not! It was a huge amount of narcotic!) they would have been in violation. A one month supply was about 80% of the "intent to distribute" limit. :shock:

But really, I am done with reading criminal code and case law - if I really loved doing that at 2am I'd've gone to law school!

However, I did figure out that my trip to Wisconsin with a tiny pill organizer of my several legit non-controlled prescriptions appears to have been legal (or at least not-illegal).

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:08 am 
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As an ER nurse who periodically sends people home with a supply of meds for a day or a weekend, I advise patients to keep the pills in the ziplock baggie with the Rx label that we provide, just as a reasonable precaution. Plenty of people have been arrested for loose pills. Hell, many kids carry around prescribed Schedule II drugs loose in their pockets, and lose them in car seats... these can potentially get mom or dad in a lot of trouble if found by an officer.

There are no absolute answers on the scene with an officer. Basically, if you've consented to any sort of search you've already fucked up badly. Consenting is never guaranteed to make things easier for you, it just makes things easier for the police.
If an officer is scrutinizing your kit, you've fucked up again. Stop doing that. But let's say it couldn't be helped, and your stuff is being searched. The cirumstances and your demeanor will be determining factors. If the officer believes you're trafficking, no label will prevent your arrest. More than a few people have thought of putting different pills in a formerly legitimate bottle. Pills are stamped with identifiers that can be looked up online, but those can be counterfeited too. The only sure test is to send the pills off to a lab to be positively identified, which is only going to happen if they're trying to charge you with something.

Depending on your jurisdiction, you may or may not be wrong to have legally prescribed meds without any sort of accompanying label, but you will ALWAYS be right to have the label. Like Kilo147 said, just ask the pharmacist for an extra, and see if they can provide a smaller bottle for you. Also, Walmart carries small vials of ibuprofen and acetaminophen tablets, usually in the checkout line: you could re-use those vials for a small supply and put Rx labels on them.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:26 pm 
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Zombie thread! Wanted to add a random data point.

One of my patients had a run in with this - they always carry a couple extra pills of one of their controlled meds because they rarely need them but can't predict when they'll need them. They really don't want to carry the whole bottle for practicality and because they've been robbed by 'friends' once the 'friends' realized what they had. Also had some meds confiscated by police when the couple of pills was in an unlableled comercial pill case, altho they themselves managed to avoid arrest (they were quite frightened by this however, it may have been a near thing).

Their solution was to get a second duplicate sticky label from the pharmacy (which the pharmacy didn't have a problem providing when I called them to ask, it was a major chain in IL) and attach it to their small pill case. Afaik they've not had any further police encounters so I can't say if this 'worked' but couldn't make it any worse.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 12:02 am 
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In Alabama prescription meds not in the original container can get you arrested. Assuming no other issues the prosecutor will likely offer a pretrial diversion.

Proceed at your own risk.

Now will all officers arrest you if they are in a ziplock with the label?

Probably not. But you may get Barnie


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 12:24 am 
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southalabama wrote:
In Alabama prescription meds not in the original container can get you arrested. Assuming no other issues the prosecutor will likely offer a pretrial diversion.


Yep. I just realized that I didn't note the appeals case cited ( http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions ... 312826.pdf) was regarding an arrest in Alabama. (Of a guy who'd clearly made at least a couple other errors of judgement.) But the pills-in-unlabelled case were considered illegal.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2016 1:21 am 
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It's not just Alabama. It is a lot of states. Your best bet is to keep any schedule narcotics in their original container especially when crossing state lines. Other prescription drugs are much less likely to get you arrested. Most cops aren't going to care about heart pills and UTI medication. It might still be a crime to have them loose.

Currently prescription drugs are the most abused drugs in the US. The US leads the world in hydrocodone abuse, consuming more than all other countries in the world, combined. Xanax is also immensely popular for abuse. Any loose schedule pain med or Alprazolam without will likely get you arrested which could be very inconvenient and expensive.

I'd have to wonder what behavior would prompt the police to go through your bags in the first place. If you are not doing anything wrong you should not cooperate with any searches. If there is a major disaster the police will be too busy to worry about a few pills in any case.

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A bit out of left field, but what about the patient information pamphlets that come with the prescription? The ones I get from the pharmacy have the same patient information, dose, doctor, and pill description as on the bottle.

If you need an emergency refill (say during a trip/evacuation that lasts longer then expected), you'll need those anyways.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:38 pm 
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Boondock wrote:
I keep my super duper, high-speed painkillers in the prescription bottle with the label when I take them camping, hiking or on the road. It's a bit of a pain to pack, but so is a night in the county jail.

The problem is when the pills take up very little room. My anxiety pills are tinym My latest batch of pills came in a huge bottle fir 15 tiny pills. Over 90% of the bottle is wasted space. My plan was to repackage them and keep a copy of the prescription in the BOB. Benzos aren't as restricted as heavy pain meds. But they are still scheduled. So I have to be careful.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:54 am 
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Purple_Mutant wrote:
Boondock wrote:
I keep my super duper, high-speed painkillers in the prescription bottle with the label when I take them camping, hiking or on the road. It's a bit of a pain to pack, but so is a night in the county jail.

The problem is when the pills take up very little room. My anxiety pills are tinym My latest batch of pills came in a huge bottle fir 15 tiny pills. Over 90% of the bottle is wasted space. My plan was to repackage them and keep a copy of the prescription in the BOB. Benzos aren't as restricted as heavy pain meds. But they are still scheduled. So I have to be careful.

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Yeah, my pill bottles easily fit 90-180 day supplies of my pills - and most of the time I'm just looking to have 3 days tucked in a couple different bags. None of mine are controlled, I'm legal in my state last I checked, but as has been pointed out numerous time the states are quite different, it's very hard to find reliable and/or clear official guidance, and "probable cause" can land you in jail even if charges are never filed.

There are pharmacy services that will fill prescriptions packaged into blister packs kinda like otc cold meds. They're meant to help folks stay organized & remember to take them - but that would be much smaller & still in "original packaging." If not labelled directly, you can probably get a duplicate label sticker for them. Dunno if it would cost extra to have that done, tho.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:17 am 
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duodecima wrote:
Purple_Mutant wrote:
Boondock wrote:
I keep my super duper, high-speed painkillers in the prescription bottle with the label when I take them camping, hiking or on the road. It's a bit of a pain to pack, but so is a night in the county jail.

The problem is when the pills take up very little room. My anxiety pills are tinym My latest batch of pills came in a huge bottle fir 15 tiny pills. Over 90% of the bottle is wasted space. My plan was to repackage them and keep a copy of the prescription in the BOB. Benzos aren't as restricted as heavy pain meds. But they are still scheduled. So I have to be careful.

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Yeah, my pill bottles easily fit 90-180 day supplies of my pills - and most of the time I'm just looking to have 3 days tucked in a couple different bags. None of mine are controlled, I'm legal in my state last I checked, but as has been pointed out numerous time the states are quite different, it's very hard to find reliable and/or clear official guidance, and "probable cause" can land you in jail even if charges are never filed.

There are pharmacy services that will fill prescriptions packaged into blister packs kinda like otc cold meds. They're meant to help folks stay organized & remember to take them - but that would be much smaller & still in "original packaging." If not labelled directly, you can probably get a duplicate label sticker for them. Dunno if it would cost extra to have that done, tho.

Yea I am aware of such things. We were looking into those to help my dad keep track of his meds. Perhaps I should do that with a week's worth of meds. If it's professionally packaged and I have an official medication list or script copy from my doc; that should keep me out of trouble. The only real concern is my anxiety meds. I don't think I am going to be arrested for possession of estrogen. Regardless putting the meds in packets would be very convenient.

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Non scheduled prescription drugs aren't as controlled as scheduled (narcs, BZDs, ketamine) drugs. If you have an inhaler without a script attached to it I doubt you'll be in much trouble in the states.

I carry narcs in the back country when I'm under medical direction. Drugs like fentanyl, ketamine, versed, valium and dilaudid are well known to LEO. I carry them in a small pelican case with the pharmacy printed labels inside the same case, in a zip loc baggie (with the dosages written on the baggie for my convenience). I also attach a small breakable seal to them so I can inventory them quickly when I throw them into my kit from my safe

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