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Is it illegal to give a friend a prescription?

It may seem harmless enough. Your friend seems very stressed out. We aren’t talking just a little on edge either. She’s talking about how she can’t sleep, can’t eat and just in general is having a hard time coping with life. You’ve been there before. You understand. So much in fact, that you give her one of your Xanax.

But wait. Did you just break the law? There was no exchange of money or anything, you were simply just trying to help a friend out.

This comes as a shock to many people -– but yes. You did. Giving someone else your prescription medication is illegal and you could wind up facing a drug charge.

According to Maryland criminal law, it is illegal to not only possess a prescription medication -– such as Xanax -– without a prescription, but it is also against the law to give this medication to someone else who doesn’t have a prescription. Just because you have the prescription in your name, this does not give you the legal right to decide someone else can take it.

Are there certain medications that are OK to share?

If the medication requires a prescription: no. OxyContin, Vicodin, Adderall, Xanax, codeine, to name only a few, all require that the person taking the pill is the same person whose name is on the pill bottle. The only way to legally obtain any of these types of medications is by going to a doctor who will prescribe them.

Even if your friend has a legitimate reason for needing to take the prescription, such as pain, anxiety or general depression, they must first consult with a doctor who will decide the best course of action and prescribe the medication if he or she feels it will help.

What can happen if you are caught giving someone a medication?

If you are caught giving a friend your prescription medication, even if it’s a first-time offense, you are looking at the possibility of jail time and a fine. And even if you don't spend time behind bars, you could still wind up with a drug charge on your record, which can impact everything from your education to future employment opportunities. 

Just like with other drug-related charges, the consequences continue to get steeper if you are caught doing this more than once.

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