LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Mark L. Stevens | May 10, 2010

NH Drug Laws: How You Can Become a Felon Putting Your Own Medications in Your Own Purse or Pocket

Did you know that if you take some of your own prescription pills out of their prescription bottles and put them in your purse that you can be convicted of a felony in New Hampshire? Crazy law? Crazy but true. In 1838 in Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens dealt with, among other things, the bizarre English law of coverture, under which husbands were lawfully responsible for any acts committed by their wives. In that literary classic, Dickens' character Mr. Bumble is informed that the law supposes that his wife acted under his direction if she committed any legal wrongdoing. Mr. Bumble's famous retort went like this: "If the law supposes that ...the law is a ass-a idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor ..." While the old English law of coverture that astonished Mr. Bumble has fortunately passed away, today's topic is an odd New Hampshire drug law that many unsuspecting New Hampshire citizens find themselves victimized by. It is RSA 318-B:14, Authorized Possession of Controlled Drugs by Individuals. Most citizens may say to themselves, "I don't need to worry about the drug laws, I only take drugs when lawfully prescribed by a doctor". Logic would say so. But in New Hampshire if you take your lawfully prescribed controlled drugs out of the original prescription container and put them in your pocket or any other container, except for a couple of unusually cumbersome exceptions, you can be prosecuted for illegal possession of a controlled drug. That's right, illegally possessing your own medications that have been legally prescribed to you by a doctor. And if your prescriptions are for controlled drugs, this simple act is considered a felony. So, if you get convicted of this you face a state prison sentence, the prospect of losing your right to possess a gun, hunt, vote, and probably foreclosing the possibility of getting any sort of decent job again. I have posted below the language of this law. What would Mr. Bumble say about this drug law?New Hampshire Drug Laws CHAPTER 318-B: Controlled Drug Act RSA 318-B:14 (2009) 318-B:14 Authorized Possession of Controlled Drugs by Individuals. I. An individual to whom or for whose use any controlled drug has been prescribed, sold, or dispensed by a practitioner or pharmacist, or other person authorized under the provisions of RSA 318-B:5 or 8, and the owner of any animal for which any such drug has been prescribed, sold or dispensed by a veterinarian, may lawfully possess it only in the container in which it was delivered to him by the person selling or dispensing the same. II. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I, a person may lawfully possess a controlled drug other than in the container in which it was delivered to him by the person selling or dispensing the same, under the following conditions: (a) A person may possess one or more types of controlled drugs in a container which has been properly labelled by the person authorized to sell or dispense the same. The label shall show the name, address, and registry number of the pharmacy and the name of the patient for whom the drug has been prescribed. For each drug, the prescription identification number and the name and strength of the drug dispensed shall appear on the label. Each drug may only be possessed in a quantity not more than that originally dispensed. (b) A person may possess a controlled drug other than in the original container if that person has in his possession an identification card issued by the person authorized to sell or dispense the controlled drug. The identification card shall contain the same information as required by subparagraph II (a). Each drug may only be possessed in a quantity not more than that legally dispensed. (c) A person may possess a controlled drug other than in the original container if the non-original container is a medication organizer designed to aid the person in carrying out the prescriber's directions and the non-original container was organized by a nurse licensed under RSA 326-B who is an employee of a home health care or hospice agency licensed pursuant to RSA 151:2, and who is acting in the course of employment, provided the original prescription containers remain in the person's possession. Have a safe night.

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